As Umatilla County’s population centers saw their first significant snowstorm of the season, the wintry conditions brought Interstate 84 to a halt Monday.
The Umatilla Tribal Fire Department and the Pendleton Fire Department responded to a multi-vehicle crash in the Poverty Flats area east of Pendleton, according to interim Pendleton Fire Chief Paul Berardi. The wreck included both passenger vehicles and semis.
Berardi said people were injured as a result of the crash, but he did not have more information. Fog and snow significantly reduced visibility at the time of the crash.
The Oregon Department of Transportation closed I-84 westbound lanes from Ontario to Exit 216, about 6 miles east of Pendleton. As of press time, ODOT had not announced the highway’s reopening.
Emergency responders across the region were at the ready, and multiple rollovers and wrecks were reported as the snow piled up through the afternoon and evening.
“This is the first (local) significant snow event for the low elevations,” said Joe Solomon, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pendleton. “We’re looking at another round this coming weekend.”
Solomon said a light steady snow would bring 3 to 6 inches in the foothills of the Blue Mountains before tapering off Tuesday. A winter snow warning remained in effect until Tuesday morning at 10. Until then, the weather service warns of slippery road conditions and blowing snow that could significantly reduce visibility.
The Pendleton School District announced Monday afternoon that it would be canceling school on Tuesday due to inclement weather. The district also canceled the Pendleton School Board’s workshop on Tuesday.
The Hermiston School District not only canceled school, but already scheduled a make-up day for Feb. 15.
Other districts that canceled school Tuesday include Milton-Freewater, Umatilla, Morrow County, Pilot Rock, Stanfield, Echo, Helix, and Ione. Athena-Weston announced a two-hour delay.
Blue Mountain Community College canceled its Monday evening classes at its Pendleton, Hermiston, Boardman, and Milton-Freewater campuses. It will also open late on Tuesday, canceling all classes before 9:30 a.m. at all of its locations.
A BMCC presidential candidate forum for Anthony Rosilez will proceed at the Pendleton campus as planned at 5:20 p.m. Tuesday.
Kayak Public Transit canceled many of its morning routes, including the Mission Metro, Walla Walla-Whistler, La Grande Arrow, Hermiston Hopper and Pilot Rocket & Tutuilla Tripper. The Hermiston Hart was expected to operate as usual.