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ODOT crews clear avalanche that blocked westbound lanes of Highway 20 west of Santiam Pass

ODOT says its crews will be working to fix image issues with Santiam Pass camera
ODOT TripCheck
ODOT says its crews will be working to fix image issues with Santiam Pass camera

(Update: ODOT clears slide at Hogg Rock, monitors for any more problems)

Motorist on Hwy. 20 east of Bend reports 'some of the worst' driving conditions he's seen in area

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) – An avalanche blocked westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20 just west of Santiam Pass for about an hour Thursday afternoon, until ODOT plows and dump trucks cleared the slide.

The slide occurred around 12:15 p.m. at milepost 79, in the Hogg Rock area, a steep-sloped lava dome that has seen frequent slides over the years. There was no word of any vehicles being hit or any injuries.

"We have removed all of the snow that was blocking the westbound lanes," ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said later; the road was cleared by about 1:30 p.m.

"Crews are monitoring in case it happens again," Davey said. "There is about 100 inches of snow on the top of the pass right now. The steep slopes around Hogg Rock make that area more prone to slides than other areas."

Earlier, before the slide was cleared, ODOT's advisory urged motorists to "use an alternate route or delay your travel if possible. And prepare for winter driving, including carrying tire chains over mountain passes in Oregon.”

Meanwhile, east of Bend, a motorist who drove to Burns on U.S. Highway 20 called Tuesday's conditions "some of the worst I've ever seen," with no signs of plowing "and the roads are very rutted with slushy snow and snow … People should avoid driving this highway if at all possible today."

Davey noted a recent news release she posted on the numbers involved in plowing operations:

"If we have one plow working a 25 mile stretch of highway, that plow is covering 50 miles if the highway is only one lane in each direction. When plowing, the truck’s speed is around 25 mph. That means one plow will only pass the same spot every two hours (if they don’t stop for any reason). If it snows 18 inches in 12 hours, that’s 1.5 inches of snow per hour. So you could be driving in three inches of snow, even with our crews plowing around the clock!"

You can track updates and other travel conditions at our ODOT TripCheck page.

Article Topic Follows: Weather

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Barney Lerten

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