ASHLAND, Ore. — A winter storm system is beginning to have major impacts on areas of southern Oregon and northern California. By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, traffic officials in both states had reported several crashes apparently caused by deteriorating conditions, soon followed by closures and chain requirements.
Traffic cameras showed snow blanketing the roadways on I-5 stretching from Weed to Dunsmuir, over Siskiyou Summit, Sexton Summit, and on Highway 199 around Hayes Hill.
OUR CREWS AT WORK: As snow begins to fall throughout our district, our crews are already hard at work keeping the roads safe for you! Please be aware while traveling that our snow plow drivers are on the roads and they need plenty of room to do their jobs! pic.twitter.com/WM6UJYyVFG— Caltrans District 2 (@CaltransD2) January 26, 2021
Traffic officials started temporarily holding northbound I-5 traffic between Hugo and Glendale before 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday in order to get several semi-trucks moving again over the snowbound pass. Chains are required on all vehicles towing or over 10,000 pounds on I-5 from Sexton to Stage Pass.
By 4:30 p.m., Highway 97 was blocked in Weed due to multiple crashes, and traffic officials closed the highway entirely from Weed to a few miles south of MacDoel.
On Highway 199 in Josephine County, the roadway remained open, but chains were required through the Hayes Hill area. Traction tires were allowed in place of chains on vehicles under 10,000 pounds. ODOT said that traffic was temporarily halted to allow plows to go through the area.
ODOT said that drivers should be prepared for winter driving conditions and expect delays into Tuesday night and Wednesday on all southwest Oregon highways.
Drivers on I-5, Highway 97 and Hwy 199 in particular should be aware and prepare for those conditions. You can keep track of current road conditions online for Oregon (Tripcheck) and California (QuickMap).
Yikes! We advise anyone in the Shasta Valley/Mt. Shasta area to stay home if possible. This is going to be a dangerous snow storm, with conditions like this for the next several hours. https://t.co/i5qC6bm7DJ
— NWS Medford (@NWSMedford) January 26, 2021
ODOT said it and Caltrans will likely need to halt traffic between Ashland and Redding if the storm quickly overwhelms their resources.
“We want travelers to be prepared and safe and not stuck on the roadway. When that happens we can’t plow the snow and everything shuts down,” said ODOT Interim District Manager Jeremiah Griffin.
Snow levels and storm tracks can vary, so be aware of the changing conditions. Other winter driving tips include:
- Delay travel if possible
- Plan for delays if you must travel
- Carry tire chains and know how to install them
- Start off with a full tank of gas
- Have snacks and food
- Be sure to have blankets, coat, gloves and hat
- Bring cell phone charger.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.