Snow flurries are already starting to fly in northeast Oregon, foreshadowing what could be another unusually cold and wet winter for the region.
Forecasters say it is still too early to tell if this year’s winter will be as severe as last, when icy conditions forced highways to close for days at a time. The Oregon Department of Transportation, however, is preparing for the worst after purchasing five new tow plows — capable of plowing two lanes at once — and expanding its pilot program to use rock salt on more local highways.
Shelley Snow, ODOT spokeswoman, said the plows will be placed strategically along Interstate 84 through Eastern Oregon, including at Pendleton, Meacham, La Grande, Baker City and Ontario. The department is also building three new salt sheds along I-84 at Mission, Echo and Boardman, which should be completed before the end of the year. Each shed is capable of storing up to 1,000 tons of salt.
“Based on what we’ve seen on the interstates the last couple of years, this could be a really good thing,” Snow said. “I think statewide, there’s a trend where we’re seeing (winter) events that are potentially more catastrophic.”
Read the full story at the East Oregonian.