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Heavy snow in Northern California prompts I-5 closure in Ashland

Heavy snow in Northern California prompted intermittent Interstate 5 closures at the state border.

The Oregon Department of Transportation closed southbound Interstate 5 past Ashland for a second time Wednesday evening and offered no estimate as to when the pass will reopen, according to an ODOT release issued at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, the pass was closed for roughly six hours, according to earlier ODOT advisories. The earlier closure began shortly after 11 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Wednesday, but even during the brief window ODOT advised motorists to be prepared for long delays, along with slow and possibly stopped traffic.

ODOT expected winter weather conditions and related traffic delays to start to subside Thursday, according to an earlier advisory that recommended motorists delay their travel if possible. As of Wednesday evening, ODOT did not require chains on Siskiyou Summit, but told southbound motorists to carry chains and to be prepared to equip them in California.

The Wednesday freeway closure was made at the request of California Department of Transportation, according to ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming.

Prior to the freeway closure on the Oregon side of the border, CalTrans already had closed the freeway to southbound traffic in southern Yreka, while the road was closed to northbound traffic about 10 miles north of Redding, according to CalTrans spokesperson Haleigh Pike. There were also some additional closures in between, including to southbound traffic at the towns of Edgewood and Antlers.

“There are also several areas where chains are required. As our crews work to clear the interstate, we ask that drivers stay off the roadway if possible,” Pike said in an email.

For the latest Oregon road conditions check Tripcheck.com. For updated road conditions in California check quickmap.dot.ca.gov.

On Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service reported that snow had fallen at a rate of more than an inch per hour in some spots around Mt. Shasta City.

“(They) got anywhere from three inches up to 27 inches,” meteorologist Jay Stockton said Wednesday afternoon.

Parts of Josephine County also saw some decent snowfall, with multiple inches reported at sites north of Grants Pass and in Cave Junction. The conditions temporarily snarled traffic at Hayes Hill and Sexton Summit because of multiple jackknifed semi trucks and other vehicles spinning out, ODOT reported.

Weather is the “likely” cause of a massive power outage that cut off electricity for nearly 50,000 Pacific Power customers in Josephine and Jackson counties, company officials said. The outage was resolved for most by early afternoon, according to the Pacific Power website.

The Rogue Valley mostly evaded snowfall Tuesday, with down-sloping winds coming off the Siskiyou Mountains preventing any accumulation.

“The wind kept us relatively dry,” meteorologist Shad Keene said.

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph were recorded around Jackson County. Gusts reached 36 mph at the Medford airport, with 26 mph sustained winds, according to Keene.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Reporter Nick Morgan contributed to this story.