A snowstorm trapped hundreds of car and truck
drivers Sunday, Dec. 28, in Siskiyou Pass, a mountainous area of
southern Oregon that contains a large stretch of I-5, according to the Oregon
Department of Transportation.
closure ran from Redding, CA, up to Ashland, OR, about 150 miles.
Associated Press said workers spent much of the night ferrying
supplies to trapped drivers and freeing vehicles.
Castle, a spokesman for ODOT, said that by Tuesday, the highway had been
cleared – although conditions can change very quickly, and additional closures
looking for another good storm on New Year’s Day,” he lamented. “It will be
The ODOT hotline was still cautioning drivers
Tuesday to continue to carry chains or traction tires with them. Castle said the state
requires that all vehicles traveling through the pass carry chains or some
other traction device, although they do not have to be in use unless conditions
lack of such devices can contribute to highway shutdowns: If a car spins out or
a truck jackknifes on the pass, he said, it can quickly create a short-term
shut down, even if there’s only a small amount of snow. But the main problem
Sunday night was the number of car drivers in the pass who clearly didn’t know
what they were getting into.
had an awful lot of people who weren’t prepared at all to spend that much time
on the pass,” he said. “When they were snowed in, they were barefoot, wearing
shorts, didn’t have food or water, and, of course, they didn’t have chains.”
we don’t have any issues with commercial trucking at all to speak of,” Castle
said. “These guys know the area very well.”
a significant number of truckers were trapped in the pass during the closure.
While he did not have an exact count, Castle said that by late Monday, most of
the vehicles remaining in the pass were commercial vehicles waiting for the
highway to open.
give people the option of staying in their vehicle or going to one of the
shelters,” Castle said. “Most of the commercial truckers had enough supplies to
stay in their trucks,” and waited for the road to open so they could deliver
100 to 200 vehicles stuck in the snowy weather, ODOT and the state police
focused on getting the stranded motorists down out of the pass and into
shelters, Castle said. All of drivers had been freed by Monday
night; by Tuesday morning, all stranded vehicles on south side were removed,
and the state was working on vehicles on the northbound side; all lanes were
the weather turns bad again in the area, truck drivers may want to seek an
alternative route. Castle said DOT officials checked conditions before
suggesting alternate routes, but in general, U.S. 97 was a good alternative for
That decision may not be too far off. A forecast
from the National Weather Service showed that more snow was expected in the
region Tuesday through Saturday. A snow advisory was placed on roads above
2,000 feet elevation.
Current travel information for the area, or any
other part of Oregon, is available on the state’s 511 line. Dial 5-1-1
in-state, or, if that number is not available, call 1-800-977-ODOT
(1-800-977-6368). For people calling from outside the state, dial (503)
addition, truck drivers with Internet access can consult ODOT’s travel Web
H. Reddig, associate editor
Reddig can be reached at email@example.com.