NEAR SANTIAM PASS, Ore. — Chain restrictions were in place on and off throughout the day Saturday, but even when chains weren’t required, people still chained up because the roadway was completely covered in snow.
As cars climbed up and over Santiam Pass, many pulled off the highway. Tire by tire, a group of musicians traveling from Eugene to Bend worked to get the chains on their bus. “It’s the first time for some of us, it’s a pain,” said Josh Harvey, a Eugene resident driving to Bend.
The group came prepared for the possibility of slick roads, but one band member was wearing sandals and not completely dressed for the wintery weather. “You know I had an idea that I might have been, but I was hoping it wasn’t quite snowing so much,” said Eugene resident Jon Conclon.
They weren’t the only ones not knowing what to expect. Oregon State Police said one patch of icy road on the pass contributed to four spin outs Saturday morning. But with the help of winter road maintenance travelers got a little relief. “Yeah, the roads here seem really well sanded and clear, so we don’t think we need our chains anymore,” said Christina Kosmas, who was driving over the pass Saturday.
Just seven miles from the summit of Santiam Pass it looked much different. The roadway was completely clear, there was just a little bit of snow on the side of the road and the only thing falling was rain.
Once drivers hit the lower elevations, conditions became more manageable giving travelers a chance to relax. “Well, we’re looking for Sasquatch,” said Harvey. Others said they enjoyed the first snow they’ve seen this winter. “Well, we live at a 1500 foot elevation, so we see it every winter, but it’s still so beautiful every time we see it,” said Kosmas.
By mid afternoon Saturday the pass had already seen six inches of snow and could see up to ten inches by the end of the weekend.