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A busy ‘calm before the storm’: Central Oregon road crews gear up for snow, ice

(Update: Adding ODOT info, advice)

'Preparing for a winter storm like this is a lot like preparing for battle'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- While the weather Wednesday was sunny and in the high 40s, David Abbas, the director of the city of Bend's Transportation and Mobility Department, knows wha's coming.  

"We got the crew, you know, anticipating and ready to work some overtime,” Abbas said. 

The city of Bend, Deschutes County and Oregon Department of Transportation crews are among the many preparing for the approaching storm.

"Just throw everything we have at it,” Abbas said. 

Deschutes County Road Department Director Chris Doty said they are gearing up for anything. 

"Preparing for a winter storm like this is a lot like preparing for battle,” Doty said. 

Each organization is ready for what could be a long weekend of plowing and snow removal.

Both Bend and the county are planning to use magnesium chloride, a chemical anti-icer applied to the roads before the snow hits.

"Beautiful day like today, calm before the storm, good time to apply that in advance of the snowstorm, so we'll be doing that,” Abbas said.

The city of Bend prioritizes roads for plowing. 

Priority one is the main roads (27th, Reed Market). Priority two is the connecting roads between main roads and residential. And Priority Three is residential streets. 

Abbas said that if Priority 1 roads remain snow-covered, those roads remain the focus.

Kacey Davey, Region 4 spokeswoman with ODOT, said they will be focusing on highways and Santiam Pass which is expected to have heavy snowfall.

"This is just another winter storm, and we're totally prepared and ready,” Davey said.

Davey said their biggest concern is making sure everyone is safe on the roads.

"Just slow down,” said Davey. “Really drive slow, because any time there's an accident or an incident on the road, it's hard for the plows to get around."

Doty wants to remind drivers that whatever's coming will pass, and everyone just needs to be cautious and drive for the conditions.

"There's never been a snowstorm that hasn't melted and gone away,” Doty said. 

ODOT reinforced those messages in a pre-storm news release Wednesday evening:

Winter weather expected in Central Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge

 Drivers traveling throughout central Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, and over mountain passes should prepare for winter weather starting Wednesday evening and lasting into the weekend.

National Weather Service forecasts are calling for cold temperatures and snow throughout the region. They are also warning of windy conditions that could lead to drifting and blowing snow. Lower elevations around Bend, Redmond, Madras and The Dalles could see around 1-4 inches per day through the weekend. Expect higher snowfall amounts over mountain passes. 

Drivers traveling on U.S. 97 and I-84 corridors should be aware and prepare for the winter conditions. Remember to drive slowly and leave extra distance between vehicles when driving on packed snow or ice. 

Snow levels and storm tracks can vary, so be aware of the changing conditions.

Other winter driving tips include:

  • Delay travel if possible.
  • Plan for delays if you must travel.
  • Carry tire chains and know how to install them.
  • Start off with a full tank of gas.
  • Have snacks and food.
  • Be sure to have blankets, coat, gloves and hat.
  • Bring cell phone charger.

Travelers should keep an eye on the forecast and monitor Tripcheck.

A full list of Winter Driving Tips can be found at:

Bend / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Top Stories
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Noah Chast

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



  1. Hahahahahahaha!!! 1 to 4 inches a day warrants this level of concern these days? Thats nuts! We used to get that in an hour, regularly, and often for days. I guess we need to stress the slow down and BIG STORM idea to the new additions to Bend considering so many really should not be driving. I honestly saw this title and thought we were expecting feet in town in a couple days. Actually glad to see it’s just hype. Stay safe CO, and CA, stay home.

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