Power outages hit 1,000s; roads closed as trees, lines fall
(Update: Southbound I-5 closed into Calif. at Ashland
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP/KTVZ) -- Utility officials say they are working to restore power to thousands of customers in southern Oregon and northern California because of high winds at the coast and heavy snow in the mountains.
Pacific Power officials said Tuesday evening that more than 15,000 customers were without power as of Tuesday afternoon with Del Norte County, California hardest hit.
Utility officials expect outages to continue overnight into Wednesday. based on the weather forecast as a “bomb cyclone” impacts the region.
Pacific Power is working with local emergency officials and the Red Cross to set up warming shelters where needed.
Travel remains treacherous and not advised tonight along the I-5 corridor and other southwest interior Oregon highways. Several highways are closed due to either blizzard conditions and/or downed trees.
Oregon Highway 138 east of Roseburg is closed due to blizzard conditions from Toketee east to U.S. Highway 97. Oregon Highway 62 from Prospect north, including Oregon 230 to Diamond Lake Junction, is also closed due to white out conditions. Oregon 255 (Carpenterville Highway), which parallels U.S. 101 between Pistol River and Brookings, is closed due to downed trees.
Chains were required both northbound and southbound on the I-5 Siskiyou Summit, south of Ashland. Caltrans is also reporting chain requirements south of the border with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and crashes near Mt. Shasta.
Eventually, ODOT said I-5 was closed at Ashland for the night, requested by Caltrans due to low visibility and blizzard conditions between Yreka and the Mt. Shasta area. Conditions will be re-evaluated around daybreak.
Significant traffic back-ups have been observed on road cameras. Caltrans is holding northbound commercial trucks at Redding. Delay travel into this area.
Oregon highways 38, 42, 42S and U.S. 101 are also reporting either downed trees or power lines, though all remained open to at least a single lane as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Travel is not advised in southwest Oregon tonight. Be prepared for wind, low visibility and poor winter driving conditions until the storm passes. Motorists are urged to drive to the conditions as there have been numerous spin-outs and crashes.
Northern California and Southern Oregon residents had been warned to brace for a ‘bomb cyclone’ that’s expected at one of the busiest travel times of the year.
The National Weather Service said the storm could be like nothing seen in the area in the past 20 years. Residents can expect wind gusts of 75 mph in some areas and waves of 35 feet or more.
Mountain passes in Northern California and Southern Oregon could get up to two feet of snow.
A ‘bomb cyclone’ forms when air pressure drops by 24 millibars in a 24-hour period. Forecasters say this storm’s air pressure has dropped even more quickly than that.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Winter driving tips available at: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/pages/winter-driving.aspx