(Update: I-5 still shut in S. Oregon)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The first widespread snowstorm of the season for much of the Bend area and Deschutes County led to slick roads and crashes on Wednesday, one of which closed southbound Highway 97 near Sunriver for about 90 minutes. The weather hit travelers hard over much of the state.
ODOT reported southbound lanes were closed at milepost 154, just south of the Sunriver exit, due to the multi-vehicle crash, reported around 12:20 p.m. Two semi-trucks reportedly were involved in a secondary crash in the backed-up traffic.
“Blowing snow is causing low visibility conditions – use caution,” ODOT’s Peter Murphy advised.
ODOT Trip Check indicated the lanes reopened shortly before 2 p.m.
Also south of Bend, a jackknifed semi-truck reportedly full of apples and pears had its trailer breached, according to OSP. And another crash was reported in the area of Spring River and Stellar roads south of Sunriver.
On Bend's Westside, police advised motorists Wednesday afternoon to stay out of the area of Northwest Ninth Street and Trenton Avenue and use alternate routes due to "multiple vehicle crashes."
Due to the inclement weather and related travel conditions, all COCC campuses closed Wednesday at 3 p.m. All COCC classes scheduled to start at or after 3 p.m. were canceled. For more information, go to https://www.cocc.edu/emergency.
Oregon’s winter weather travel woes were widespread. ODOT at first warned drivers on I-5 between Ashland and the California border at midday Wednesday to "prepare for severe winter driving due to blizzard conditions" over Siskiyou Summit, along with full chain requirements.
"Driving conditions in California are also harsh," the agency warned, "so expect more of the same in the corridor from south Ashland to Redding."
Later Wednesday, ODOT closed I-5 southbound at Ashland, at Caltrans' request, due to severe winter conditions and disabled vehicles from Weed to Redding.
The Thursday morning update from ODOT:
"Interstate 5 southbound at Ashland: Latest word from Caltrans is to expect a late morning opening of the interstate into California. Interstate traffic bound for California should avoid the south Ashland Exit 14 area due to major congestion/crowding in the area anticipating a reopening.
"There is no detour on any other roads into California. U.S. Highway 97 remains closed south of Dorris, CA. And there are no shortcuts on any other roads, despite what GPS may show.
"In past California closures, prior to any announced reopening, crews at the Exit 11 chain screening location will begin metering vehicles as part of a 'soft' opening. This initially helps with congestion on the interstate and when traffic reaches California problem areas.
"Best advice for travelers when an opening is announced: Wait a bit longer until the traffic jam clears and expect delays and congestion into California."
Officials also closed part of Interstate 84 eastbound in Eastern Oregon near La Grande because of snow and vehicle crashes.
The Portland area also saw snow-covered roads in some places Wednesday after an icy Tuesday that led to school delays.