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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.

Confirmed Cases: 30801

Reported Deaths: 526
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6818130
Marion444790
Washington428958
Umatilla291341
Clackamas225661
Malheur152723
Jackson10394
Lane96415
Deschutes76912
Yamhill73814
Jefferson5138
Polk50215
Morrow4886
Lincoln47213
Linn46613
Union4352
Benton2856
Klamath2732
Hood River2450
Wasco2343
Douglas2093
Josephine1832
Columbia1541
Coos1380
Clatsop1170
Baker902
Crook601
Tillamook480
Lake280
Wallowa281
Curry270
Sherman180
Harney120
Gilliam80
Grant80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 786168

Reported Deaths: 15016
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2607976353
Riverside566811153
San Bernardino52471908
Orange520631128
San Diego44577760
Kern31379354
Fresno27668355
Sacramento21297375
Alameda20558374
Santa Clara20410296
San Joaquin19793414
Stanislaus16319335
Contra Costa15837199
Tulare15599256
Ventura12328143
Imperial11558314
San Francisco1074599
San Mateo9522143
Monterey946767
Santa Barbara8862110
Merced8750134
Kings728377
Sonoma7060114
Marin6557112
Solano608555
Madera429658
Placer346641
San Luis Obispo336927
Butte274835
Yolo274754
Santa Cruz22188
Sutter164210
Napa161413
San Benito130111
Yuba11187
El Dorado10684
Mendocino84918
Lassen7310
Shasta68714
Glenn5503
Colusa5096
Nevada5066
Tehama4984
Humboldt4826
Lake46510
Calaveras31114
Amador28616
Tuolumne2214
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1610
Del Norte1361
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc240
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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