Winter is just getting started

By on Thursday, January 11th, 2024 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

COLUMBIA BASIN – From highway closures to fatal crashes, snow and ice combined with gusty winds caused havoc throughout the region yesterday, and it’s only just begun.

A winter storm warning is posted starting today and lasting until 4 a.m. Sunday for the Union and Wallowa counties, as well as in the southern and northern Blue Mountains. Communities that will experience blowing snow and slippery roads include Long Creek, Ukiah, North Powder, Cove, Meacham, Tollgate, Ski Bluewood, Elgin, and La Grande.

Motorists are urged to stay off the roads if at all possible. Those who must travel are cautioned to make sure they have plenty of gas, their cell phones are charged, and they have blankets, food, and water. Both Oregon and Washington transportation officials urge people to stick to major roads instead of following secondary roads that could be closed for the season. If stuck, people are urged to stay with their vehicles.

The National Weather Service is also warning about extremely cold temperatures moving into the area. Today is basically the last time temperatures will be above freezing well into next week. While snow is expected to move out of the area Sunday, the cold temperatures will stick around. Daytime highs will range from the single digits to the teens, while overnight lows could be from the single digits to below zero at least until Wednesday.

The extreme cold has forced the cancellation of a couple of events in Washington state. The Special Olympics Washington Tri-Cities Polar Plunge scheduled for Saturday has been rescheduled to March 16 at 9 a.m. at the Riverfront Trail in Columbia Point Marina Park in Richland. Also in Walla Walla and College Place Boy Scout Troop 305 has postponed its annual Christmas tree collection that was taking place this weekend to Jan. 20-21.

First Congregational Church, 73 S. Palouse St., in Walla Walla is hosting an emergency warming center from 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) through 7 a.m. Monday. Operating hours are subject to change based on weather forecasts and conditions.

Additionally, the Christian Aid Center, 202 W. Birch St., in Walla Walla urges residents to drop in between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., if shelter is needed.

A reminder, the Pendleton Warming Station, 715 SE Court Ave., is able to open nightly this winter, not just when the temperature goes below freezing. In addition, public libraries are open most days throughout the region.