Light snow storm leads to early evening I-84 closure

Nov. 23—LA GRANDE — A mild snowstorm had a major impact on Interstate 84 traffic in Ladd Canyon during the evening hours of Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Four trucks spun out in the vicinity of Ladd Canyon's east entrance, forcing I-84's eastbound lanes to be closed from La Grande to Baker City from approximtaley 6:30 before being reopened around 8:45 p.m., according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Nobody was reported injured in any of the four truck spinouts.

There was also a motor vehicle crash in the westbound lane of I-84 in Ladd Canyon, one involving a Toyota pickup near the top of Ladd Canyon at about 7 p.m. Nobody was injured in the roll-over accident, according to the Oregon State Police. The accident did not cause the closure of any of the westbound lanes on Interstate 84.

Ace Clark, the Oregon Department of Transportation's, manager of ODOT's District 13, which includes all or portions of Union, Baker and Wallowa counties, said the snowstorm, which dropped less than an inch of snow on the Grande Ronde Valley, was a factor in the crashes because it was among the first to hit Northeast Oregon this fall.

"People need time to get adjusted to conditions during the first couple of snowstorms," Clark said.

The snow, which hit the Grande Ronde Valley, fell between 5:28 p.m.and 6:19 p.m. deposited about an inch of snow in the Grande Ronde Valley. The temperature when the snowfall started was 36 degrees and it was 35 degrees when it stopped, according to the National Weather Service.

The most snowfall reported during the brief storm, according to the National Weather Service, was 2 inches at a site 10 miles north of Elgin.

No additional snow is in the forecast in the Grande Ronde Valley from Nov. 23 through Nov. 25, however, conditions will be breezy and cold. Winds of 5-7 mph are forecast for Nov. 23 and on Thanksgiving Day they will increase to 7-9 mph.

The wind on Thanksgiving evening will pick up to 11-14 mph with gusts as high as 23 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Winds of 9-13 mph and gusts of up to 22 mph are in the forecast for Nov. 25.

No wind is forecast for Nov. 26 or Nov. 27 but there will be a chance of light snow both days, according to the National Weather Service.

No major storms are forecast for Thanksgiving weekend, still drivers are urged to be careful, according toTom Strandberg, a spokesman for ODOT.

"The Thanksgiving travel season is one of the most hazardous," he said.

One reason is that there are extra people on the road, many of whom do not like trips through this area often.

"They may not be familiar with our weather and its patterns," Strandberg said.

He stressed that drivers should not get overconfident if they do not see snow along roadways this time of year since there may be black ice that is not visible.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer. Contact him at 541-624-6016 or