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Snow stops but slick streets, crashes, slide-offs linger

Another 1-3 inches due-then lows in single digits

BEND, Ore. - The first widespread snowfall of the winter hit Central Oregon Monday night and Tuesday morning, and though it wasn't a lot of snow to start, it was more than enough to make roads slick and trigger numerous crashes and slide-offs.

The National Weather Service in Pendleton said it would extend its winter weather advisory for much of the region until 3 p.m. Tuesday. It had been set to expire at 10 a.m., but forecasters said another one to three inches would fall on top of the overnight accumulations.

Crashes and slide-offs were reported on numerous roadways, including Highway 126 west of Prineville, Deschutes Market Road north of Bend and, shortly after midnight, on Highway 97 in Redmond. Track the latest traffic and weather conditions at our TripCheck page.

There were no reports of school delays or closures.

Snow totals by mid-morning Tuesday ranged from five inches north of La Pine to 1-2 inches in the Bend area, 2-3 inches in Prineville and about an inch in Sisters and Redmond. A weather spotter north of La Pine reported a total snow depth of nine inches, while another had a half-foot on the ground.

Mt. Bachelor, meanwhile, reported 11 inches of new snow for a 41-inch total. Hoodoo had another five inches in the past day for a nearly 43-inch snow depth.

The crashes continued through the day and into the evening commute, as the snowfall tapered off and temperatures dropped, causing roads to get an icy glaze.

Central Oregon faces the coldest readings so far this season, with lows in the single digits. A new storm will bring more snow starting Wednesday afternoon, with somewhat warmer temperatures and highs back above freezing.

The winter weather arriving on the High Desert brings a familiar routine for road crews -- and a familiar warning for drivers as the roads get slick.

ODOT was trying to reduce the slip on roads by spraying magnesium chloride on the highways, and once the snow falls, they'll be dropping some cinder to continue the cause.

As Bendites know, spreading de-icing material is a daily winter routine for ODOT, their primary concern being driver safety. Specifically, minding the de-icing trucks while they're on the road, slow as they may be.

"When we're applying our de-icer chemical, the fastest that we can go is 35 mph due to our applicator computer," ODOT Maintenance Manager Tim McGinnis explained Monday. "It can't do any more than that."

That chemical, magnesium chloride, is pretty expensive.

"For the de-icer, we're (paying) roughly about $1.09 a gallon, and for every truckload that we put out, we're about $4,000 a truckload."

They use roughly 30 gallons per lane mile, and with each truck doing about five loads a day, that's $20,000 worth of de-icing chemicals.


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