Severe weather and poor travel conditions are expected across Oregon in the days leading up to Christmas. Knowing road conditions before you go and planning accordingly will help you get to where you are going.
Yes, the roads have melted a little bit, but they’ll freeze back up as temperatures drop. Then we get snow and, after that, freezing rain.
The roads are going to be a mess for several days.
“We could have highways that are closed due to crashes, power lines down or trees falling across roads so I urge people to stay home or stay close to home,” said Kacey Davey, Oregon Department of Transportation public information officer. “I know that’s a really hard message to hear.”
ODOT crews are preparing by spraying de-icing chemical on the roads before the snow arrives. But the magnesium chloride deicer fluid only works down to about 20 degrees and in sub freezing conditions even treated roads will get icy.
“I asked our crews what they are doing to prepare and they said, ‘telling our families we won’t be home for Christmas because we will be out on the roads working.’”
Cinders and sand will be spread to help drivers get traction in icy conditions. But if freezing rain materializes as forecast, the cinders will quickly be covered in ice, rendering them useless.
Motorists will need to be extremely careful.
“When you drive, be very smooth. Don’t change lanes abruptly. Don’t accelerate abruptly. Everything you do should be in a smooth, slow fashion to allow the tires to maintain their grip,” said Paul Macy, Gills Point S Tire Service Manager.
Macey commutes to Bend from La Pine every day. He has studded tires on all his personal cars and anticipates more people will want the additional traction in coming days.
“Now people are popping up out of their little groundhog holes and noticing there’s going to be some nasty weather and saying ‘I better get off my butt and take care of it.’”
AAA recommends drivers carry emergency kits with extra blankets, extra clothes, food and water for everyone in the vehicle in case they get delayed in traffic or stuck in a snowbank.
Check your tires, radiator fluid, battery and windshield wipers to make sure they are up to snuff for the rough weather and difficult driving ahead. And be sure to have a full tank of gas, even if you don’t need it to get where you are going. If you get stuck, you can keep your engine — and therefore your heater — running.
Check road conditions here.