A powerful winter storm dumped heavy snow across Central Oregon Monday and strong winds led to impassible highways all over the state.
Monday evening, ODOT reported several spun-out vehicles and a snow slide closed Santiam Pass from three miles west of Santiam Pass Summit to four miles east of Suttle Lake Loop.
Highway 26 over Mt. Hood was closed as well due to extreme winter driving conditions.
Back here in Bend, Oregon State University-Cascades announced around noon that it would close its campus at 2 p.m. Monday.
The cancelation came out of an abundance of caution for students and staff, especially those traveling on slick roads to and from campus.
OSU-Cascades director of communications Christine Coffin says university officials will discuss whether or not to close campus for another day on Monday evening.
However, if campus is closed, that does not mean all professors will opt out of class for the day.
“What we asked students to do was to check their Canvas web platforms, that’s the service that they use to check in on the status of their classes,” Coffin said. “So faculty will report on those Canvas class sites, whether class is canceled or whether class is offered via Zoom.”
Earlier Monday, Central Oregon Community College announced it was closing its campus immediately due to the snowfall and deteriorating conditions.
Bend-La Pine Schools also announced students riding buses would be released 30 minutes early to allow bus drivers additional time to drive to changing road conditions.
As for flights coming in and out of Redmond Municipal Airport, a few delays and cancelations occurred, but “nothing massive” according to airport manager Zachary Bass.
Bend was expecting as much as 6 inches of snow during the day and another 1 to 3 inches overnight before some clearing.
Bend and Redmond were expecting another 2-5″ of snow before some clearing. Locations to the south could see 6 to 18 inches of snow before the storm moves through.
The snow was causing traffic issues across the region.
A 24-year-old Redmond man died early Monday after his car collided head-on with a semi on Highway 126 near Powell Butte.
Mt. Bachelor was expected to get pounded as well with more than 2 feet of new snow possible.
But the wind gusts up there early Monday forced the ski area to announce limited operations.
“Due to extreme winds, Front-side (West Village) and West-side lifts will be closed today and a select number of Sunrise Base Area lifts are being prepared for opening,” according to its website. “Base your ski day out of Sunrise Base Area and stay tuned to the mountain report for updates.”
Winds were expected to gust to 62 mph on the mountain Monday.
At lower elevations, winds were expected to range from 15 to 35 mph, limiting visibility in areas where heavy snow was falling.
Across the state, conditions were just as bad.
Officials closed dozens of state roads in eastern Oregon and Interstate 84 was shut down through the Columbia River Gorge.
U.S. 26 is now closed at milepost 44, near Rhododendron, to OR 35.
Winter conditions have also forced the closure of OR 35 from U.S. 26 north to the Hood River County line.
ODOT said dangerous winter driving conditions can be found in many areas around Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge.
The agency reported wind gusts of 60 mph in Umatilla County, snowdrifts along roadways that are several feet tall and white-out conditions.
Is says the conditions are so bad that it can’t plow the roads and people who ignore road closures could become stranded for several days.
Several High Cascade highways are closed for the night due to heavy snow, downed trees and slides.
The closures are:
* Oregon 138E from Glide to the U.S. 97 intersection (MP 16-100)
* Oregon 62 from Prospect north to the intersection with Oregon 230