Several inches expected at lower elevations - and feet in the mountains
(Updating with NE Bend crash involving DCSO deputy, car-bike crash)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The National Weather Service on Monday issued a winter storm watch for Central Oregon, warning holiday-week travelers of 4-10 inches of snow falling Tuesday and Wednesday at lower elevations of the High Desert and 7-13 inches on the east slopes of the Cascades, including La Pine and Sunriver.
To compound the tricky travel, forecasters say winds could gust as high as 35 mph, causing blowing and drifting snow.
"Travel could be very difficult," the Pendleton forecasters said. "Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility."
A winter weather advisory for the northern Cascades, including Santiam Pass and Hwy. 26 over Mt. Hood, warns of 9-15 inches at pass levels between 10 a.m. Tuesdsay and noon Wednesday, with winds gusting to 45 mph and "very difficult to impossible" travel, "with white-out conditions at times."
Several crashes were reported in Monday morning's sub-freezing temperatures and later, including two on Highway 20 east of Bend, where Oregon State Police reported icy conditions in the Horse Ridge area and points east.
Two people were taken to the hospital from a crash near milepost 35 on Highway 20, one by air ambulance.
Another crash in northeast Bend sent a Deschutes County sheriff's deputy and a Bend woman to the hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
Bend police responded to the crash around 8:10 a.m. at Butler Market and Daniel roads, Lt. Juli McConkey said.
Police said Deputy Kiersten Ochsner was heading east on Butler Market with her lights and siren on, heading to a rollover crash on Highway 20 east, when a 35-year-old Bend woman pulled out in front of the deputy's 2019 Dodge Charger, McConkey said.
Witnesses said the other driver didn't stop completely at the stop sign before turning onto Butler Market to head west. Ochsner got out of her damaged patrol car and rendered aid to the other driver until medics arrived.
Sheriff Shane Nelson said he was thankful that both drivers "only sustained minor injuries." The crash remains under investigation and no citations have been issued.
Another crash in northeast Bend sent a bicyclist to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said it occurred near Fourth Street and Franklin Avenue shortly before 11 a.m. Lt. Juli McConkey said a driver and the cyclist were heading east on Franklin Avenue when the bicyclist, Stephen Rueckheim, 66, a Bend transient, veered from the bike lane in front of the driver in an attempt to turn into the Safeway parking lot.
Bend Fire medics brought Rueckheim to St. Charles Bend, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was in fair condition late Monday afternoon.
McConkey said the case was still under investigation and no citations were issued.
Another two-vehicle crash occurred Monday morning on Highway 97 north of La Pine, as roads were reported to be slick south of Lava Butte. There were no reports of serious injuries in the crash.
Things dry out and get very cold as Thanksgiving arrives -- as in lows in the low single digits Thursday and Friday nights.
Still, Mt. Bachelor's 'Hopening Day' planned for Black Friday, snow or not, should have much more snow to play in by then, compared to the inch or two there now. In fact, the NWS forecasts 1-2 feet of snow or more piling up in the mountains west of Bend by the time the storm relents on Thanksgiving.
The situation is expected to be much worse in southern Oregon, where hurricane-force winds are expected along the coast and forecasters warn of heavy snow down to 2,000 feet, urging travelers to "be where you need to be by 8-10 a.m. Tuesday morning, or wait until Wednesday afternoon."