Drivers prepare for blizzard-like conditions in the Columbia Riv - KPTV - FOX 12

Drivers prepare for blizzard-like conditions in the Columbia River Gorge

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The Columbia River Gorge near Crown Point Wednesday. (KPTV) The Columbia River Gorge near Crown Point Wednesday. (KPTV)

As a wintry storm moves in Thursday, the Columbia River Gorge is expected to take the brunt of the storm with blizzard-like conditions, freezing rain and several inches of snow possible in places.

Wednesday afternoon, some truck drivers were eager to hit the road before the storm arrives.

“I mean snow is easy to deal with, chains will handle that no problem,” said Michael Armstrong, a truck driver stopped in Troutdale. “But when you have ice that changes everything.”

Armstrong doesn’t take any chances when it comes to the Gorge. He will be avoiding it altogether and head south to Barstow, California. It adds 400 miles to his route, but he would rather spend a few extra hours behind the wheel than take his chances in risky weather.

“Just last week we had a truck that passed us,” Armstrong recalled. “We slowed down to about 50, they passed us. 30 minutes later they were spun out on the freeway, facing the wrong way.”

A spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation says they’ll be watching I-84 very closely, too.

Dozens of de-icing trucks were out all across the metro area Wednesday, and they’ll go back again in the evening as employees start working 12-hour storm shifts.

If the interstate does have to be shut down, the western closure would be in Troutdale. How far east that closure could go depends on the weather.

“I’m from Georgia. It doesn’t get that cold, and there’s no snow and there’s no ice, so it’s really different [here],” said Lee-Anne Thomas, visiting Troutdale Wednesday. “It’s cold!”

“The winds up [in the Gorge] are twice what they are here, you get those channel winds and they’re gusting winds,” Armstrong added. “Doesn’t matter if you’re driving good or slow, that will still push your truck sideways.”

As far as schools in the Columbia River Gorge, the Mt. Pleasant School District announced it will be closed on Thursday, while the Lyle School District said it will have a 2-hour late start and no morning preschool on Thursday. Another update from Lyle Schools was expected by 8:00 a.m. Thursday.

Stay with FOX 12 Oregon for the very latest updates as Thursday’s storm arrives.

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