Ski season is upon us!
A school bus filled with Nordic ski racers from Bend lost control on an icy section of Hwy. 35 on Mount Hood January 14th and crashed into two vehicles, closing the highway for several hours. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Road conditions have been treacherous after weeks of snow in the mountains and freezing rain in the valleys, and traffic accidents have become commonplace from Portland to Mount Hood. But perhaps the scariest close call to date came Saturday afternoon after a busy day that saw ski resort parking lots fill early. The Bend High School Nordic Ski Team was returning from a competition with a bus full of 43 students and two adults when it hit a patch of ice and failed to stop in time to avoid a line of vehicles backed up on the highway leading from Mt. Hood Meadows to Government Camp.
The bus did a full 180, collided with two vehicles and was in turn crashed into by a semi truck that skidded on the same ice. None of the vehicles was traveling at a reckless speed, so the collisions did not result in injuries. The crash closed all lanes of traffic for about two hours.
While the road was closed, Oregon State Police set up at the Mt. Hood Meadows exit to redirect travelers back to Portland via I-84 through Hood River. Many opted to return to the resort and wait it out instead, because I-84 has been treacherous with ice lately and was particularly bad on that Saturday. Cars were spinning 360s on rutted ice near I-205 and a huge truck spun sideways in East Portland blocking an exit off-ramp. Spin-outs and accidents have been piling up for months as road crews have struggled to keep pace with the proliferation of snow in the mountains and ice in the valleys under a persistent inversion weather pattern.
The Oregon weather forecast is calling for more ice in the valley this week, with particularly nasty driving conditions in the Columbia River Gorge.