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Valley floor got a pass, but Cascade passes hammered

Update, 11:40 a.m.: Both lanes of Highway 140 are back open, but transportation officials urge drivers to use caution and expect winter driving conditions on all Cascade mountain passes. Chains are required for vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds on Highway 140 between mileposts 21 and 41.

10 a.m.: Two semis are jackknifed and a tow truck has been hit on Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods, blocking both lanes, according to Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming.

Leaming didn't yet know whether there were any injuries. He said the two trucks jackknifed at about 4:30 or 5 a.m. this morning, and though crews were able to get one lane open, a vehicle struck a tow truck and blocked both lanes again.

Travelers were advised to expect an extended closure at milepost 21.5 and take alternate routes between the Rogue Valley and Klamath Falls, according to ODOT.

Traffic on passes along Interstate 5 kept moving overnight, Leaming said. ODOT had pretreated passes and bridges before the storm hit, helping keep the roads free of snow and ice. 

The overnight storm dumped a foot of snow at Diamond Lake Resort, said front desk manager Michael Koch, whose family has owned the resort since the 1950s. He said there was a 2-foot base at the lodge.

The snow meant good news for the lodge, which plans to open its new seven-lane inner tube hill unofficially on Saturday. The resort installed an escalator that can take as many as 1,200 people an hour up the hill with their tubes — 10 times more than the previous, three-lane setup.

In the valley, snow accumulations ranged from 1/10th of an inch at the Medford airport to 2.2 inches four miles north of Eagle Point, said meteorologist Misty Duncan of the National Weather Service.

The snow caused a two-hour delay for Ashland School District but other school districts were running on normal schedules.

Snow mixed with rain is expected this afternoon and tonight. Temperatures are predicted to drop into the low 20s, which may mean hazardous conditions tonight, Leaming said.

"The big concern now is watching the temperatures drop with the wet pavement in the valley," Leaming said. "We may see a more challenging day tomorrow with black ice interfering with the commute."

"We may have gotten a pass today, but it may be different tomorrow."

Liam Lusch, 4, runs through a light dusting of snow at his home in Medford on Tuesday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch