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Hundreds stranded on Interstate 5 in ‘bomb cyclone’ fallout

The stranded cars made it difficult for plows to clear the freeway and it was unclear when the northbound lanes would reopen.

Posted: Nov 27, 2019 10:48 AM
Updated: Nov 27, 2019 11:08 AM

By GILLIAN FLACCUS and OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of cars remained stranded Wednesday on Interstate 5 headed north from California into Oregon in the aftermath of a major storm that dumped snow and created white-out conditions on both sides of the California-Oregon border.

The stranded cars made it difficult for plows to clear the freeway and it was unclear when the northbound lanes would reopen. I-5 was closed in both directions late Tuesday because of the storm, but the southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon early Wednesday.

As the skies cleared Wednesday, drivers reported being stuck for 17 or more hours in blizzard conditions and some spent the night in their vehicles.

Travel was particularly perilous over the Siskiyou Summit, one of the more treacherous mountain passes, and just south of the Oregon-California state line.

“There is a large number of spun out vehicles, large trucks and smaller cars, along the road that didn’t put chains in their tires as required,” Denise Yergenson, a Caltrans spokeswoman said. “That blocked the road and it’s hampering our ability to plow.”

Portland, Oregon resident Christina Williams and her 13-year-old son were some of the lucky ones who made it through the storm, but not without plenty of scary moments. They were driving from Oregon to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving when they first hit snow around Roseburg, Oregon.

Williams said it took them more than 17 hours to reach Redding, California, where they got a hotel room. Conditions were so treacherous, she said, that she was afraid to try to exit the freeway because it was so slippery.

Cars all around them were getting stranded and ice formed on her windshield even while the car was on.

"There were spin-outs everywhere, there were trucks that were abandoned and every time we stopped and started moving again, there were people who couldn't start moving again," Williams said. "Every time we stopped I was like, is this it? Are we going to be here overnight?"

At the peak of the storm, Pacific Power said 15,000 customers were without power.

That number had dropped to several thousand, mostly in northern California, by Wednesday.

The storm — called a “bomb cyclone” — came ashore near Brookings, Oregon late Tuesday afternoon packing heavy snow and winds gusting up to 106 mph (170 kmh) in some coastal areas. A bomb cyclone forms when air pressure drops 24 millibars or more in a 24-hour period. They are rare in the U.S. West and this storm’s pressure dropped even more precipitously than expected, leading forecasters to say it was one of the worst such storms in the past 15 to 20 years.

Central Oregon also got hit with snow and Oregon State University closed its Bend campus due to weather conditions.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 174501

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34800568
Washington23412229
Marion20116299
Clackamas15311204
Lane11554144
Jackson9904127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes708272
Linn414263
Yamhill408775
Klamath345259
Polk342952
Malheur342758
Josephine305462
Douglas304365
Benton273218
Jefferson206432
Coos196831
Columbia153826
Union141124
Lincoln129820
Wasco128928
Hood River112429
Morrow107915
Clatsop8918
Crook87819
Baker85614
Curry5939
Tillamook5803
Lake4137
Grant4064
Harney3056
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3716579

Reported Deaths: 60994
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122864123628
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2945774550
San Diego2748113674
Orange2688694891
Santa Clara1169712013
Kern1078251322
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1005001643
Alameda852561477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66927782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383830
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41107560
San Francisco35993517
Santa Barbara33863446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29679311
Imperial27962719
Kings22766245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16250239
Santa Cruz15554204
Marin13860226
Yolo13559199
Shasta11677217
Butte11549196
El Dorado9719109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598263
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362151
Humboldt358737
Lake340643
Glenn235525
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned330
Medford
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Hi: 82° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 56°
Brookings
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Medford
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Hi: 58° Lo: 30°
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Medford
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Hi: 84° Lo: 39°
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Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 70° Lo: 33°
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Still pretty warm Monday
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