Snow, ice and winter weather over the next few days will create challenging driving conditions, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The National Weather Service has issues a winter storm warning for the Columbia Gorge and many parts of central and eastern Oregon, with snow continuing over the holiday weekend in some areas, including Ontario.
Motorists are advised to postpone travel if possible. Those who do venture out are urged to first check road and weather conditions at www.TripCheck.com, where images from hundreds of real-time highway cameras can be seen. Over a dozen new cameras were added between Pendleton and La Grande in 2020. Links to winter driving safety tips are under the “Road and Weather” tab at the top of the website. Just open the “Winter Travel” and “Winter Driving Safety” drop down menus.
Following are a few driving tips to keep in mind:
• Be ready to use chains. Be patient. Go slow.• Expect a long commute that could last hours. It’s unpredictable when weather or traffic incidents will cause the road to be closed for extended periods.• Turn off cruise control. Never use cruise control in wet, icy, snowy or slippery conditions.• Along with snow and slick conditions, expect visibility to be limited.• Make sure your wipers, headlights, turn signals, heater, etc. are in good working order.• Keep your fuel tank full (in case you get stuck in road closure).• Keep your cell phone charged.• Avoid following GPS navigation directions onto remote or unfamiliar roadways if detoured off of the main highway. Many non-highway routes are not maintained during winter conditions.• Carry emergency supplies (water, food, warm clothes, flashlight, etc.)• Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.• Use extra caution and keep safety in mind when installing tire chains along the side of the roadway. Other drivers may not be able to see you clearly.• Drive according to road conditions, regardless of posted speed limits.• Watch weather conditions throughout the day in anticipation of the next storm, which could make current road conditions worse.
For more driving tips and information on snow plow safety, ODOT’s winter levels of service protocol and winter safety projects read the Eastern Oregon Winter Roadway Guide , which is available online at www.oregon.gov/odot. Once there, search for Winter Roadway Guide.