Snow and ice a recipe for headaches (and fun)

January 18, 2012

The winter weather many have prayed for has finally arrived. However, along with the beauty and potential fun, the snow and ice bring dangerous road conditions.

At press time, while snow continued to accumulate with the predicted storm moving in, the Hood River County Sheriff's Office had not yet received reports of any serious accidents on county roads. Schools, however, were given a two-hour delay on Tuesday, with potential closures eyed for Wednesday.

Over the weekend however, following the snow's first arrival, accidents and near-accidents were a common occurrence across the county highways.

A dramatic ice-related accident occurred near Tucker Bridge close to noon on Sunday when a car failed to negotiate the ice-covered curve near the Apple Valley Store and slid off the road and onto the bank of the Hood River. No one was reported injured.

On Sunday, according to Oregon State Police reports, several cars were involved in ice-related accidents along I-84 between Hood River and The Dalles.

By evening, ice patches just west of Mitchell point, between Hood River and Cascade Locks, caused several spin-outs - one resulting in a van coming to rest on its roof around 8 p.m.

Sunday and Monday's slip-and-slides are just the beginning as the auto-vs.-ice conflict heats up as while the temperature cools.

According to the ODOT website, a strong low pressure system will move in from the southwest Tuesday night and Wednesday, spreading increasing moisture over the cold air mass that is in place across the region.

This will result in more heavy snow for the Cascades and Columbia River Gorge and may bring heavy snow accumulations.

According to the National Weather Service, there is the potential for a significant winter weather event. As a result the NWS has issued a winter storm warning in effect through 6 p.m. Jan. 18 for the western Columbia River Gorge and upper Hood River Valley.

As snow deepens OSP and the Hood River County Sheriff's Office all caution drivers to slow down, use traction devices and limit travel, if possible.

While a "brief lull in snowfall is predicted for the afternoon and evening of Jan. 17," according to the NWS, "heavy snow should return that night and on through Wednesday.

"Snow will likely be heaviest in the west half of the Gorge through Tuesday then heaviest near Hood River Tuesday night and Wednesday, reaching accumulations of between 6 and 12 inches expected by Wednesday evening.

"Accumulations of up to 18 inches are possible near Hood River and in the Hood River Valley. Strong east winds are expected to develop Tuesday night and Wednesday, with gusts up to 50 mph possible.

"Heavy snow and strong winds will cause significant travel problems in the Gorge. The Hood River Valley will likely see very heavy snowfall rates by Jan. 18, with the potential of making many roads impassable."

Precautionary and preparedness actions are advised for all drivers as conditions worsen. Only travel in an emergency. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, warm blankets and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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