Some drivers slowed or stranded by blizzard conditions spent 17 hours or more in their cars on Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border.
Christina Williams of Portland, Oregon, and her 13-year-old son got stuck in the storm as they tried to drive to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving.
Williams says she connected via Twitter with others stranded around her using weather-related hashtags, sharing information on conditions in other parts of the backup. She says “there were spin-outs everywhere” and abandoned trucks. Williams says she began to wonder if they would have to spend the night in their car.
She said it took them more than 17 hours to reach Redding, where they got a hotel room. That journey would usually take at least 10 hours less.
I-5, #SiskiyouSummit, MP 0-13: Chains required on all vehicles except 4x4s unless towing, S of #Ashland. @CaltransD2 reporting chains NB from #Yreka toward Anderson Grade. Be prepared for wind, low visibility & difficult winter driving conditions along I-5 in #SWOregon & #NorCal pic.twitter.com/wKpx9w8eRc
— OregonDOT (@OregonDOT) November 26, 2019
Hundreds of people were stranded on the 5 after it was closed near the border in both directions Tuesday.
The northbound lanes reopened between Redding and the Oregon border after 5 p.m. The southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon, earlier Wednesday.
California transportation officials said Wednesday the freeway was clear and no chains are required.
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.
TRAFFIC ALERT: NB I-5, 10 miles north of Redding: Commercial trucks are currently being turned around at Fawndale Road. Vehicle screening is in place. Motorists must carry chains to proceed north. Expect delays and travel only if necessary. @KRCR7 @ActionNewsNow @OregonDOT pic.twitter.com/jCVmHVPlQZ
— Caltrans District 2 (@CaltransD2) November 26, 2019