A few cars slid off roads but for the most part, Philomath appeared to survive any serious issues related to a few inches of snow that fell Tuesday afternoon. The conditions were challenging west of town on Highway 20 and among the incidents was a jackknifed semi truck that collided with another vehicle.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office responded to various calls and advised motorists to avoid the highway.
“The deputies were dealing with multiple minor crashes that blocked two-way traffic and they worked with ODOT to keep it open,” Greg Ridler, Benton County undersheriff, said Tuesday, adding this evening that the area “was still a mess in the Wren Hill area all the way over to Lincoln County.”
The crash involving the jackknifed semi and another vehicle occurred this afternoon on Highway 20 about 3 miles west of Philomath near Mouse Mountain Road. It’s not clear if there were any injuries.
“Chains are still required over the mountain,” Philomath Fire & Rescue Chief Tom Miller said. “Multiple cars and trucks are stranded up there so drivers need to be cautious.”
Major delays on Highway 20 continued into the evening, including in the Burnt Woods area.
Another weather-related incident occurred along Highway 34 when a tree crashed down into power lines and caught on fire. Philomath Fire & Rescue responded to the scene.
Temperatures hovering just above freezing brought down a wet snowfall and that led to some challenging driving conditions in all areas. Ken Rueben, Philomath police chief, said motorists in town were generally driving at much-slower speeds with a report of only one car that ended up in a ditch.
Kevin Fear, Philomath Public Works director, said the Oregon Department of Transportation de-iced Main Street. The city only sands streets when conditions become icy.
“We don’t plow because we don’t really have a place to put the snow and it blocks driveways,” Fear added. “Someone plowed a few blocks several years ago and we had a ton of complaints because it blocked driveways. Never did find out who did the plowing.”
Snowfall appeared to lessen as nightfall approached. Still, a winter weather advisory remained in effect until 4 a.m. Wednesday for the central and southern portions of Willamette Valley and BCSO was still asking motorists to avoid Highway 20.
As of 7:30 p.m., the Philomath forecast at Weather.com showed showers late tonight and into tomorrow morning with fog rolling in at approximately 5 a.m. More rain is expected to fall through much of Wednesday and into Thursday morning.
With forecasted temperatures predicted to get into the low 40s on Wednesday and rain falling, the snow will likely not be around for long.