Motorists should be extra careful on Oregon highways over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend with a forecast calling for windy, cold temperatures throughout the Willamette Valley and a chance of snow at higher elevations.
Holiday delays and congestion are a familiar part of Thanksgiving and this year everyone needs to be prepared for hazardous conditions, especially for anyone traveling over the Cascades or Coast Range.
ODOT crews throughout Oregon will be ready around the clock through the holiday weekend to keep the roads as safe as possible and as clear as possible and do it as quickly as possible.
The forecast in the southern Willamette Valley calls for a mix of snow and rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and turning cold, clear and windy the rest of the week. The Cascades, the Columbia River Gorge and the Coast Range may see snow at higher elevations.
Snow or wind are not expected to be a hazard on the Oregon Coast.
Hazardous pre-holiday travel conditions will plague drivers throughout southwest Oregon beginning Tuesday with the arrival of severe winter storm described by forecasters as “historic”. Drivers should expect damaging winds, especially on the south coast and blizzard conditions with low snow levels in the mountain passes.
“If people can leave today (Monday November 25), now is the time,” said ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon. “Travel Tuesday into Wednesday is forecast to be the worst, with conditions improving for Thanksgiving Day.”
South coast wind gusts of more than 75 mph are predicted. Six to 12 inches of snow are expected to fall on the I-5 corridor in Oregon and higher amounts in the Cascade passes. Travelers should plan extra time to get to their destinations and prepare for delays and severe weather conditions. Forecasters say another weather system, but not as severe, is expected this weekend.
Monitor travel conditions at Tripcheck in Oregon and Quickmap in California as well as the latest National Weather Forecasts. Travelers should make sure their vehicles are winter ready with chains and traction tires.
“Drivers should carry tire chains or devices and know how to install them, pack warm clothing such as hats and gloves, water and snacks,” said Marmon.
In the event of delays or road closures, drivers should not venture away from state highways and follow GPS “short cuts” on forest roads. “Be prepared for delays and make sure you and your family get to their destinations safely,” said Marmon.
Here are some travel tips for the holiday weekend.
- Even in the best road conditions, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Expect delays, plan ahead, allow extra travel time and know before you go.
- Watch the forecast along your route both for the holiday trip out and the trip home.
- Use caution if going over the mountain passes. Check the TripCheck.com cameras for conditions on your route.
- Many of the camera displays include temperature, elevation and other helpful details about conditions.
- Pay attention to the roadside variable message signs. They contain critical information about real-time conditions.
- Watch out Saturday along Interstate 5 in the Willamette Valley, where congestion is expected for the Oregon-Oregon State Civil War game in Eugene. Even if road conditions are clear, motorists should allow additional travel time and expect backups.
- Make sure you’re ready in case you encounter wintry road conditions. That means carrying chains and knowing how to use them and packing supplies for you and your passengers in case of major delays, such as food, water, blankets, warm clothes and medications.
- Perhaps most important, make sure there’s a sober, focused and alert operator behind the wheel to help you arrive safely to your family functions and to get you safely home after.
No matter where you travel in Oregon over this holiday, be prepared for changing conditions. And don’t forget to look out for each other. A full list of winter driving tips can be found on the www.Tripcheck.com.