Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
County public works employee Shane Losee uses an illuminated snow blower at 6:30 a.m. Friday on the sidewalk around the County Health Building on June Street. Throughout the county, people used blowers, plows and shovels to move snow Thursday and Friday. Postal Service authorities remind homeowners to make sure carriers have a clear walking or driving path to mailboxes.
As of Friday, December 9, 2016
A winter storm walloped the Columbia River Gorge Thursday, leaving Hood River with at least six inches of snow — and an ice storm warning effective until early Saturday morning.
The ice storm warning expires at 4 a.m. Saturday.
Warmer rains are expected to follow that evening, with forecasters hoping a boost in temperature will help thaw icy, dangerous roads throughout the region.
Slick conditions led to numerous traffic accidents Thursday on Interstate 84 and Highway 35 near Hood River. Emergency officials and tow crews had a busy day responding to various wrecks.
Schools, some government offices, and businesses closed their doors amid the flurrying snow. Local students got two snow days, as Hood River County School District and Horizon Christian cancelled due to inclement weather.
Weekend travel won’t be spared from challenging conditions.
“It’s going to be a mess getting through the Gorge,” Will Ahue, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Portland, said.
Hood River will likely see intermittent snow showers Friday, followed by rain, Ahue said. East winds could contribute to a brief snap of freezing rain. Through the weekend, however, warmer rains may thaw the ice and ease traffic conditions.
According to volunteer tests in Parkdale and Odell, the valley picked up somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 inches of snow. Mount Hood gathered at least seven inches, according to a report from Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort.
Mail delivery has been slowed, due to delays in trucks arriving from Portland to either the downtown Hood River post office or the Odell distribution center. Acting Postmaster Debra Reed-Sharp said carriers are doing their best to reach all mail delivery points, but are hampered by closed roads in the county and in the city of Hood River. Many parcels are being routed to Hood River instead of Odell so carriers can expedite them, but patrons should expect delays.
Reed-Sharp said it is up to homeowners to clear snow from paths to their doors or mailboxes on the streets for carriers to reach on foot or in vehicles.
“We are doing our best but we have to put carrier safety first,” she said.
Jason Shaner, owner of Rivers Edge Towing, said his crews are working full tilt to reach as many requests for service as possible, but noted that “it takes us two or three times to get around” and the wear and tear on vehicles, as well as the danger to drivers, are paramount concerns.
“We’ll get to people as soon as we can, but we have to make decisions about who needs the service the most, and some people should really just stay at home,” he said, citing one incident when a woman got into a wreck on Interstate 84, and had locked her keys in her vehicle. “She was in danger, so we put a priority on that,” he said.