ODOT, meteorologists warn of wintry road conditions
From snowstorms on major Rogue Valley passes Monday to black ice at night, the Oregon Department of Transportation and National Weather Service meteorologists in Medford are urging drivers to take it slow and prepare for delays.
Snow is expected to fall throughout the day Monday at the Interstate 5 Sexton Pass north of Grants Pass and on Redwood Highway near Hayes Hill, according to ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming, and is forecast to fall later in the day at the I-5 Siskiyou Summit near the California border south of Ashland.
“With the weather coming in we’re trying to prepare people to be ready for winter driving conditions,” Leaming said. “Any time you travel outside the Rogue Valley you’re traveling over a mountain pass.”
Leaming recommended that motorists carry chains, necessary gear and factor extra time for delays in their travel plans. He encouraged motorists who can postpone their trips “a day or two” to do so.
National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene said snow at higher elevations of Josephine and Douglas counties would cause “big impacts all day long” Monday.
Late Monday morning, Leaming said ODOT road crews were keeping up with the falling snow on Sexton Pass and keeping the roadway “well swept.” Hayes Hill on Highway 199 toward Cave Junction had “wet flakes” on the road that didn’t appear to be sticking.
If ODOT officials determine chain restrictions are necessary, the conditions can “slow things down pretty significantly,” according to Leaming.
Snowflakes fell in Grants Pass Monday morning, but Keene didn’t expect the flakes to stick.
More concerning to Keene were “flash freezes” or black ice if temperatures drop below freezing before the roads dry.
“It’s hard to forecast exactly where that occurs,” Keene said, advising motorists across the Rogue Valley to be careful on roads into Tuesday morning.
Temps will be very cold tonight. Any melted snow or rain could freeze tonight and create some black ice for tomorrow's commute. Please drive slowly and leave lots of room between you and the cars around you. #BlackIce #orwx #cawx pic.twitter.com/6YRERayX55— NWS Medford (@NWSMedford) December 13, 2021
Wednesday’s forecast calls for more slick conditions.
At least half an inch of snow is expected to fall in Medford, with more snow at higher elevations.
“Be careful driving,” Keene said, urging drivers to slow down and give extra space in the snow.
The Rogue Valley saw heavy precipitation over the weekend, according to Keene. The NWS weather station at the Medford airport recorded .92 inches of rain during the 72 hours over the weekend. Farther west, some in the Illinois Valley recorded closer to three inches.
For the latest road conditions in Oregon, see TripCheck.com, and in California check Caltrans QuickMap.
Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.