UPDATE: Weather slows traffic; I-5 closures lifted
It was slow going both north and south on Interstate 5 leaving the Rogue Valley Thursday, as snow and icy conditions put drivers on alert and caused some closures. But the potentially heavy snows that were forecast didn't materialize, leaving motorists with a clearer path than some had feared.
There was snow at higher elevations, prompting the Oregon Department of Transportation to warn of potential delays. Roadside cameras on Sexton Summit showed packed snow on the freeway Thursday late afternoon. The temperature there was hovering around freezing all day.
Northbound lanes of Interstate 5 eight miles north of Grants Pass, between mileposts 66 and 81, shut down around 6:25 p.m. Thursday because of winter weather driving conditions and vehicle tie-ups, according to ODOT's website, tripcheck.com, which tracks road conditions and closures. About 20 minutes later, southbound I-5 lanes near Milepost 99 at Canyonville were closed, as well. ODOT had warned drivers to find alternate routes of travel.
Both closures were lifted by 9 p.m., but ODOT noted that heavy snow was falling continuously and warned motorists to carry traction devices.
To the south, at the Siskiyou Summit near the Oregon-California border, ODOT cameras showed the travel lanes free of snow, but the temperature was in the high 20s and there were reports of numerous icy spots. ODOT warned of possible delays in that area as well, although the cameras showed no back-ups late Thursday afternoon.
Highway 42 remains closed to all traffic at the Coos-Douglas county line near milepost 45, a few miles east of Remote, following a landslide. ODOT officials say it could be closed for a week.
The hardest hit areas for snow continued to be in the Cascades. Highway 230 near Diamond Lake has packed snow and snow flurries reported. More than 100 inches of snow are reported roadside at the West Diamond Lake summit. Highway 62 leading into Crater Lake remained closed at its junction with Highway 230, north of Union Creek. Packed snow was reported on Highway 62 at Prospect, with 14 inches of snow roadside.
Reports out of Crater Lake indicate there is 9 feet of snow on the ground, double the normal for this time of year.
Highway 140 is snow-packed from the pass to Klamath Falls. Highway 97 is snow-packed from Klamath Falls to Bend.
The National Weather Service said snow flurries were likely overnight in the Rogue Valley, followed by snow flurries and rain Friday. There is a chance of freezing fog Friday night and Saturday morning. The low temperature Friday is forecast to be 19 degrees, followed by 21 degrees Saturday night. It will warm in the following days, with lows around the freezing mark and highs in the low 40s.