MEDFORD, Ore. — With a series of winter storms in the forecast over the next several days, both meteorologists and Oregon agencies are warning people to avoid traveling. Those who do should check conditions and use caution when hitting the road.
The StormWatch 12 team predicts a foot or two of snowfall in the Cascades beginning on Friday into Satuday, followed by another helping on Sunday.
While much of the snowfall will be concentrated along Highway 62 toward Crater Lake and further north toward Diamond Lake, Highway 140 and I-5 at the Siskiyou Summit will share in much of the accumulation. Expect delays and chain restrictions through these areas.
ODOT has 24/7 coverage along Siskiyou Summit. Every employee is working during this set of storms in 12-hour shifts. Along I-5, they are plowing, sanding and salting.
"Just to keep the traveling public safe," said the ODOT Transportation Manager in Ashland Bob Harshman. "That's our biggest concern up here and just to keep the roads open. That's what we do."
Meanwhile, high winds could contribute to blizzard-like conditions in those areas and beyond. Heavy snow and strong winds in some areas could cause downed trees and potential power outages.
Here's a look at how snow levels will drop Friday into Saturday. Heaviest snow will be Friday night through Saturday morning. More details on snow amounts and travel impacts on https://t.co/1Wn1IPFr2h #StormWatch12 pic.twitter.com/1uFrm99RmJ
— Matt Hoffman (@matthoffmanwx) January 10, 2020
"ODOT wants travelers to think twice before trying to drive over the mountain passes which are expected to get several feet of snow this weekend, especially in the Diamond Lake/Crater Lake area," the agency said in a statement.
There is a High Surf Warning along the Southern Oregon coast beginning on Friday night and lasting through Saturday evening, with waves expected to reach 32 feet or more.
"High tides and tidal flooding are expected along the coastline beginning today," ODOT said. "Drivers should be aware of possible water on roadways, especially in low-lying areas such as Coos Bay and Charleston."
ODOT has asked that people avoid traveling in these winter weather conditions altogether. The agency also provided the following tips if you must travel in winter weather conditions:
- Carry chains and know how to put them on.
- Know before you go. Plan your route. Let someone know when you’re expected. Stay on state highways. Do not rely on GPS.
- Carrying an emergency kit that includes supplies of water and food, and blankets. Have a full tank of gas and charge your phone.
- Get safely situated. Don’t wait until after a storm hits to get on the road. Get to your destination before conditions turn nasty and unsafe.
- Travel smart. Consider waiting until a storm passes to get on your bike or in your car.
- Look out for each other. If you must drive, remember cyclists and pedestrians are harder to see in a storm. If you’re biking or walking remember that cars don’t stop quickly on snow and ice.
- Leave early. It’s smart to allow plenty of time to get where you’re going. In severe weather, closures and crashes can cause long delays.
- Check on any appointments before you leave. Offices and businesses may close due to the weather.
- Beware of outages. If a storm knocks out power to traffic signals, treat intersections like an all-way stop. The driver who stops first goes first.
- Watch for plows. ODOT sand trucks, plows and deicer trucks can’t clear roads clogged with traffic. The more traffic stays off the road, the quicker roads can be treated. Everybody benefits the sooner they can get the road cleared.
- In coastal areas, watch for water on the roads and highways. Do not attempt to cross any stretch where you cannot see the roadway surface.
"Remember, driving on ice and snow pack or water-covered surfaces is never a safe choice," ODOT said. "The safest thing to do may be to stay off the road."