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Snow, rain brings flood concerns, closures; slide cleared, I-84 reopens in Gorge

Debris from slide covered parts of I-84 east of Portland Thursday morning
Debris from slide covered parts of I-84 east of Portland Thursday morning

(Update: I-84 reopens)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Heavy rain following this week's snowfall is causing new travel issues, including a slide Thursday that closed Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland for much of the day, the Oregon Department of Transportation reported.

The latest storm to hit the Pacific Northwest brought flood warnings, the shutdown of a major mountain pass, school closures and icy roads.

Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass in Washington’s Cascade mountains was closed Thursday due to high avalanche danger, zero visibility and blowing, drifting snow. Stevens Pass on U.S. 2 was also closed due to heavy snow. Snow and ice closed Blewett Pass on U.S. 97.

Heavy rain and snowmelt brought flooding concerns in western Washington and Oregon as the latest atmospheric river moved into the region. Flood advisories were in place Thursday and a flood watch extended through Friday.

After days of rain and snow, one slide briefly closed the Historic Columbia River Highway, U.S. Highway 30, early Thursday between Vista House and Larch Mountain Road. Crews were able to get the road open before sunrise, however, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said.

Then came bigger problems. A Thursday morning slide between mileposts 36 and 37 forced the closure of Interstate 84 in both directions between exit 17 in Troutdale and exit 62 in Hood River. A jackknifed truck with a punctured fuel tank at milepost 53 in the eastbound lanes complicated recovery.

ODOT reported Thursday evening that all lanes of Interstate 84 had reopened between Troutdale and Hood River.

But they said smaller slides continued in the Gorge and ODOT will monitor the freeway.

Highway conditions remain "volatile," ODOT said, with precipitation continuing and temperatures dropping below freezing in may parts of the state. Motorists were warned to be prepared for water and debris on the road throughout Western Oregon, and potential snow and ice in mountains. Travelers should continue to use caution and go to for real-time travel information.

U.S. 26 was open as a detour connecting Central Oregon and the Portland area, the road not as slick Thursday morning as it has been in recent days, he said.

"Oregon has been like that this week, with lots of everything everywhere all the time," Hamilton said. "Even for Oregon it feels like it won’t stop. And we’re in for more with more snow expected by nightfall in the upper elevations, more rain in the lowlands and both in the Gorge."

"We pay the price on the roads," he said. "Conditions remain unsettled across much of Oregon, including the mountain passes, and travelers need to use caution everywhere and consult to check their route in advance. And take a look at TripCheck's live camera network; many cameras include temperature and altitude information that can help you better understand your route."

In Eastern Oregon, OR 334 remained closed Thursday by heavily drifting snow. Interstate 84 reopened completely in Eastern Oregon Wednesday after weather-related closures.

With all this rain, travelers need to be prepared for delays caused by high water, rising rivers, downed trees or slides. Consider packing a bag with supplies like water, food, a charged phone and other necessities that might be needed in a lengthy closure.

And if you’re out on the roads, look out for the crews who have been working so hard everywhere in recent days to keep the roads safe and clear, Hamilton said. Give crews a wide berth so they can get the job done. 

Article Topic Follows: Weather

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