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Heavy, wet snow makes for slick roads, crashes around C.O.; schools close early

(Update: Adding video, comments from Bend PD, drivers)

(Bend-La Pine Schools let bus riders out 30 minutes early; Deschutes courts to close)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Heavy, wet and slushy snow began falling Monday morning, and it didn’t stop.

But that didn’t stop drivers like in Bend, like Zac Simpson, from hitting the roads.

“You know, I just got out, but I’ve noticed it’s not really sticking, so it just kind of feels a little more wet,” Simpson said. “I haven't found any ice patches or anything like that, so it's been pretty chill.”  

Chris Wombolt, a Bend resident, said he didn’t change his plans for the day because of the snow. 

“Roads are a little soggy today -- I mean, they’ve been icy, but today is not so bad, when it comes to ice -- it's more soggy then anything,” Wombolt said. 

But it did make Simpson re-think taking a trip to Mt. Bachelor.

“I think this was the reason we all called it, we were all like, ‘Ehh, there's no reason fighting it -- we can always go the next day, the day after that’,” Simpson said. 

While better than ice, the slushy conditions still caused some trouble for drivers, including Kayla Farrell, who lives in Redmond. 

“Coming down on (Highway) 97, they were fine -- there's only a little bit of ice in the middle. But then down when you get into town, it's slushy all over the place,” Farrell said. “And I’m in four-wheel-drive. and I was still kind of sliding in the slush.”

Bend Police spokeswoman Lt. Juli McConkey said that by noon Monday, there already were 11 non-injury crashes, and one crash resulting in an injury.

“Hopefully, we aren’t going to have any more, any injury or non-injury crashes, as long as people can slow down and take their time to get to their destination,” McConkey said.

She said a crash could happen anywhere.

“They're all over Bend,” McConkey said. “We’ve had a lot of crashes, not only in the northeast but the northwest, southwest, so there's not any one particular area.”

She advised driving slowly, leaving space between you and the next car, and taking your time on turns.

Farrell said, “I just go real slow. That’s all you can do is go slow.”

“Definitely drive really slow, really cautious, take your time on the turns,” Wombolt said with a laugh. 

A fatal head-on crash on state Highway 126 east of Powell Butte early Monday led to a temporary road closure and a detour. ODOT reported the two-vehicle crash happened around 6 a.m. near milepost 12, five miles east of Powell Butte. A detour was put in place.

To the south, there were reports that snow drifts were causing issues for school buses in the La Pine area, as classes resumed across the region.

Due to the snowfall and travel conditions, COCC closed all four campuses before 11 a.m. Classes were canceled, including live Zoom campuses, and all services and departments are unavailable for the day. For more information:

Also due to the winter storm, the Oregon State University-Cascades Campus announced it would close at 2 p.m. Monday. Students were advised to check their Canvas course websites for the status (remote or canceled) of their classes. 

The school said Little Beavs Child Care also would close at 2 p.m. Students, employees and others were advised to exercise caution on commute. For more information, visit or contact 541-322-3100. 

Bend-La Pine Schools sent out word that students riding buses would be released 30 minutes early, to give bus drivers additional time to drive to changing road conditions. Bus riders will be dropped at their stops about 30 minutes early. To track your student’s bus route, visit: MyStop. Non-bus riders were being released on their normal schedule.

Deschutes County Circuit Court announced its offices would close at 4 p.m.

Jackknifed semi-trucks were causing issues and blocking Hwy. 20 at times near Santiam Pass. Check the area's webcams, and a link to our ODOT TripCheck page, here:

Extreme wind conditions prompted Mt. Bachelor to close all lifts and trails at West Village and on the west side of the resort.

Along with the National Weather Service winter storm warning, high wind warning, wind advisory and winter weather advisory around the region was an avalanche warning from the Northwest Avalanche Center in Seattle for the Mount Hood area and east slopes of the Washington Cascades. Backcountry travel was not recommended.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. I have a friend that go re ended on Bear Creek do to excess speed why won’t these Morons SLOW DOWN , stop tailgating & blowing the Horn someone is going to get killed blowing the the horn as it has happened back East Wake up up dim wits SLOW DOWN stop the Horn Blowing/ Tailgating Slow the * down

    1. Perhaps, just perhaps if you are always being tailgated and honked at, you could be the problem? Also, I assume English is not your first language based on your grammatical and lack of punctuation laced scribbled nightmare. I still hurt from pushing through reading it.

      1. He didn’t say that. And obviously you don’t know that conditions right now means slow is safe. Sometimes it’s best just to pull over and let the newbies in their SUV’s go and just hope they don’t harm anyone when they find out what happens when you go too fast in these conditions.

  2. I put a set of Blizzaks on my sexy Prius cuz some new resident with no clue how to drive in winter conditons might hit my truck that cannot be replaced. I can get a new Prius in a day

  3. Cars were travelling freely in Bend today, including up the roads to COCC and OSU. Why do they shut down the first day of school in many weeks? It is almost as if they really don’t want to teach kids anymore.

  4. I always leave a good amount of space between me and the car in front of me at lights and stop signs; just in case the people behind me realize too late that they can’t stop in the amount of space they thought they could. Then I watch the rear view mirror and if they need more space I have it to offer. Just 1 tip that may help keep you from getting rear ended. Probably quite a few new snow drivers in town now. You can blame the person who is wrong but how much better to calculate that in to your driving perspective and awareness.

  5. On trip to KFalls there was a pickup on it’s side half way to Hwy 58 turn off. On the way back, an SUV on it’s roof and another seven vehicles of the road, some in the ditch. I presume speedy drivers were the causes of these slide offs.

  6. Before the influx of people from Southern California, and other areas that get little
    to no snow, this wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t even newsworthy. People knew how to drive
    during the winter. Even people that didn’t have four wheel drives managed just fine
    for the most part. As we continue to get inundated with transplants, the number of
    accidents will continue to increase.

    1. I’ve been here 30 years. Been writing about wintertime crashes at every media outlet over that time (and before it in Portland.) Every news outlet does. (Other times of year, too, of course.) It’s always been newsworthy to some degree. Blocked roads folks depend on, family tragedies, etc. And not just “transplants,” either.

      1. I guess my comment could have been written differently Barney. It’s true that
        there have always been accidents during the winter months, and that holds true
        in any area that gets snow and ice, but I was referring back to the 70’s and
        early 80’s. Of course there were accidents back then as well, but for the most
        part it was someone that slid off the road into a ditch or a field.
        In the early 80’s as the population began increasing dramatically, it became more common to read about, or see, serious accidents. I know you might not agree with it, but myself and others blamed this on the increasing influx of people from California.
        It’s not meant to be a dig at Californians, but the evidence was obvious because of
        the number of vehicles that were here with California plates, and it was easy to
        see that they brought their bad driving habits with them, as well as vehicles that
        clearly weren’t ready for winter driving conditions.
        I do agree with you that serious accidents as well as road closures are newsworthy.

        1. Yeah folks always blame Californians. Even 30 years ago (newly elected city councilor (and former Californian!) Bob Woodward called the new transplants “the locusts of our time” in a letter to Oregonian editor.
          But just maybe things also seemed better then because we were decades younger. Things always seem better then.

          1. The locusts of our time LOL. I haven’t heard that for years but that’s
            exactly what it seemed like at the time, but it’s ironic that someone from
            California said it. In the late 70’s and early 80’s it was almost like someone
            flipped a switch and all of the sudden there were vehicles with California plates
            were everywhere.
            I will always blame Californians for the demise of Bend. When the influx began
            there were obviously a lot fewer homes available because our population was so
            much smaller, so in order to get a home here, they began offering more for the
            houses that were available and it essentially started a bidding war, which in
            turn artificially drove up the price of real estate here, which made it almost
            impossible for blue collar working class people to buy a home, and that is the
            kind of people that lived here. A lot of the people that were native to Bend worked in mills or logging. We didn’t have the trust fund babies and people that sold
            their homes for a million plus…
            I’m 60 years old and I would give anything for things to go back to the way they
            were in the 70’s and earlier. That’s why so many people moved here. Less people, less traffic, and fewer homes and shopping malls would be nice. I honestly can’t think of one positive thing that has come with the increased population and growth,
            but I know there is no going back, and it will only continue to get worse,
            but this is just my opinion.

            1. I’m almost 66, been here 30 years and don’t blame newcomers for making the world change. Believe me, it’s not just here. But yes, you are entitled to your opinion.
              I’ll take the good with the bad of progress any day. Able to work from home, for example! Full of tradeoffs.

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