US bomb cyclone fallout, Hundreds of drivers are left stranded.
Hundreds of cars were left stranded on Interstate 5 headed north from California into Oregon on Wednesday following a major storm that dumped snow and created white-out conditions on both sides of the state borders.
Drivers reported being stuck for 17 or more hours in blizzard conditions and some spent the night in their vehicles as large swathes of the country were paralyzed by a ‘bomb cyclone’ and up to 30 inches of snow.
Stranded cars made it difficult for plows to clear the freeway. I-5 was closed in both directions late Tuesday because of the storm, but the southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon early Wednesday.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 5 reopened on Wednesday evening heading from Redding, California, all the way to the Oregon border.
California transportation officials said Wednesday the freeway was clear and no chains are required.
Two major winter storms are disrupting the travel plans of millions of Americans headed to Thanksgiving Day destinations on jam-packed highways and airplanes Wednesday.
Those living in the western two-thirds of the country have been badly hit with deteriorating conditions, forcing the closure of interstates and resulting in canceled flights – just as 55 million set off for the holidays.
Travel was particularly perilous over the Siskiyou Summit, one of the more treacherous mountain passes, and just south of the Oregon-California state line.
‘There is a large number of spun out vehicles, large trucks and smaller cars, along the road that didn’t put chains in their tires as required,’ Denise Yergenson, a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spokeswoman said. ‘That blocked the road and it’s hampering our ability to plow.’
Portland, Oregon resident Christina Williams and her 13-year-old son were some of the lucky ones who made it through the storm, but not without plenty of scary moments. They were driving from Oregon to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving when they first hit snow around Roseburg, Oregon.
Williams said it took them more than 17 hours to reach Redding, where they got a hotel room. Conditions were so treacherous, she said, that she was afraid to try to exit the freeway because it was so slippery.
Cars all around them were getting stranded and ice formed on her windshield even while the ignition was on.
‘There were spin-outs everywhere, there were trucks that were abandoned and every time we stopped and started moving again, there were people who couldn’t start moving again,’ Williams said. ‘Every time we stopped I was like, is this it? Are we going to be here overnight?’
Filmmaker Josh Cantu told ABC 7 he saw cars out of gas and passengers ill equipped for the treacherous weather with little or no snow gear.
At the peak of the storm, Pacific Power said 15,000 customers were without power. That number had dropped to several thousand, mostly in northern California, by Wednesday.
Don Anderson, deputy director of the California Department of Transportation in Redding, says Caltrans and many other agencies worked hard to communicate the seriousness of the storm but that many drivers were still caught by surprise.
The storm — called a ‘bomb cyclone’ — came ashore near Brookings, Oregon late Tuesday afternoon packing heavy snow and winds gusting up to 106 mph in some coastal areas.