The first true winter storm of the season rolled into Central Oregon Wednesday causing slick roads that led to several crashes, according to highway and law enforcement officials.
ODOT reported around 12:30 p.m. that seven vehicles had been involved in two crashes on southbound Highway 97 just south of Sunriver.
Spokesman Peter Murphy said five vehicles were involved in the first crash and two more – including a semi – were then involved in a chain reaction crash.
No word yet on any injuries from those crashes.
The road reopened around 2:20 p.m.
Meanwhile, Bend Police reported multiple crashes in the area of NW 9th St. and NW Trenton – a large hill leading from Portland Avenue up Awbrey Butte.
Police said that area would be closed due to the hazardous road conditions.
The road conditions were bad enough for Central Oregon Community College to cancel classes Wednesday at all of its campuses starting at 3 p.m.
The snow continued in Bend on and off throughout the day – and was heavy at times.
Central Oregon Daily News Chief Meteorologist Dorrell Wenninger said the system is expected to clear out on Thursday and we can expect as much as 10″ of snow on the eastern slopes of the Cascades and mountain passes with a trace to 2″ of snow in lower elevations.
Farther south, ODOT closed southbound I-5 at Ashland around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday due to blizzard conditions, heavy snow and multiple disabled vehicles.
On Thursday morning, Caltrans expected a late morning opening of the interstate into California.
Interstate traffic bound for California should avoid the south Ashland Exit 14 area due to major congestion/crowding in the area anticipating a reopening.
There is no detour on any other roads into California. U.S. 97 remains closed south of Dorris, CA. And there are no short cuts on any other roads despite what GPS may show.