BEND, Ore. - A familiar, troublesome Central Oregon winter weather phenomenon settled in New Year's night -- freezing fog that turned skies murky and caused several Redmond-bound flights to turn back.
The National Weather Service in Pendleton issued a freezing fog advisory for most of the High Desert through 10 a.m. Wednesday and predicted patchy freezing fog each day and night until Saturday.
Visibility was less than a half-mile at times -- and indeed, at Roberts Field was down to 1/4 mile late Tuesday night. It was a bit better Wednesday morning, from 1-3 miles as the fog swirled in and out.
Three Tuesday night flights to Redmond by Horizon Air and United were forced to turn back or were diverted, according to RDM's online flight tracker .
Two departing Horizon flights were canceled Wednesday morning after a string of inbound flights unable to land late Tuesday night due to the fog.
Air travelers or those giving them a lift are urged to check their flight's status before heading to the airport
Along with reduced visibility, forecasters warned that road surfaces could turn icy.
The NWS added a new wrinkle/worry Wednesday morning, warning of possible freezing drizzle on Thursday in Central Oregon and points north.
"Ice accumulations will not be significant," forecasters said. "However, it will not take much freezing drizzle to create very slick roadways and other services."
Temperatures dropped to the single digits in many spots early Wednesday, and areas high enough to be out of the fog got even colder. A La Pine resident told NewsChannel 21 he awoke to a -9 temperature, while a Paulina resident reported -6.
Diana Gepner, who lives 13 miles southeast of Prineville, said it was -1 at 8 a.m., and while "in the blue" skies, could look west and see the layer of fog blanketing Bend.
NewsChannel 21 Chief Meteorologist Bob Shaw said the freezing fog would keep things "quite chilly throughout the day," with mostly sunny skies in areas that can break through (or stay above) the fog.
In fact, as the sun broke through in Bend Wednesday morning, some surprise snow began falling in Bend and Redmond as well -- and many got to see the air literally sparkling, with floating ice crystals shining in the January sun.