Snow causes first closure

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Snow-covered roads are becoming a regular feature of traveling through the mountain passes, and drivers must now carry traction devices with them.

Oregon Department of Transportation has shut down Highway 242, the McKenzie Pass, for the season, Spokesman Joe Harwood said. “We’ve had some snow showers on and off since October.

“In fact, probably a week before Halloween, we had kind of a sudden, very fierce snow storm on Santiam Pass.”

It shut the pass down when truck traffic was stopped and unable to continue, he said.

On Friday, snow was visible on the sides of the roads on the cameras, while the blacktop was clear.

“We’re at a point that people need to be ready for winter driving conditions,” Harwood said. As of Nov. 1, drivers need to carry traction tires or chains; and ODOT has required drivers to chain up already this year.

“It’s a lot like last year,” he said. Last year, McKenzie Pass was closed on Nov. 1. This year, it was closed on Nov. 3.

Closer to Thanksgiving, Harwood said, snow should start sticking at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, with slick spots on the roads in the mornings and evenings.

“We’ll have some pretty cold nights,” he said, and he warns drivers to be cautious on bridges, which are the first to freeze as air circulates above and below the roadway.

Hoodoo ski resort, located just east of the Santiam Pass, did not have current snow levels on Monday, but last Wednesday Hoodoo was reporting a foot of snow and predicted a Nov. 28 opening for skiers with the sled hill opening in mid-December.