Snow Causes Whiteout on Passes

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WILLAMETTE PASS, Ore. — The passes saw nearly a foot of fresh snow, and they’ll see more Monday night.

ODOT had several plows out clearing the roads, but even that was tricky.

ODOT officials recommend people not drive at all up the passes, even with four-wheel-drive and chains, so we hitched a ride with an ODOT snow plow to show exactly what it looked like on Willamette Pass Monday.

Trucks and cars started chaining up just outside of Oakridge, not even at 4,000 feet. But unless you absolutely had to cross over the Cascades, law enforcement warned you to stay off the passes completely.

ODOT plow operator Perry Lee was making rounds on the lower half of the pass where there was about a consistent inch or two of snow on the ground. He came in on his day off to help clear the pass after working a complicated night Sunday night.

“Last night the wind came up and we had trees down all around this area,” Perry said.

Lee was able to take us to about half way, which is where we switched into a chained-up plow.

We headed up with operator Danny King, and around 4,500 feet we were greeted by whiteout conditions all the way to the summit.

“You’re not just getting the stuff falling out of the sky. You’re getting stuff in the trees, blows drifts and stuff. It makes you snow-blind where you can’t see,” King said.

Along the way, there were numerous accidents and spun-out cars, where OSP tried to dig people out.

“Up here by the tunnel is about the worst because it’s such a bottle neck,” King said.

The snow didn’t stop. King pointed out places he plowed less than an hour before that were now covered with three to four inches of fresh powder. It was the worst king said he’d seen in five years.

The passes are supposed to see about six to twelve inches throughout the day Monday, and about two to three feet total by the end of this storm. Our KEZI 9 News meteorologists say that’s not the end of the snow, though, as the passes should see snow every day this week.

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