Storm dumps 9.5 inches

The skies dumped nine and a half inches of snow on Ashland Sunday night, and another three to six inches could be on its way.

Sunday afternoon's storm pushed Ashland well above the season average of 5.8 inches, said Mike Petrucelli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Scattered showers were expected throughout today, with another storm slated to hit tonight and continue until Tuesday morning, he said.

"For the next week or so, it doesn't seem like there's going to be a lot of variance from that," he said. "It's going to be one system after another for the next five to seven days at least."

Temperatures could edge above freezing, but not enough to see significant melting, he said, so drivers should allow extra time or avoid driving if possible.

Except for a major accident involving three semis and two passenger vehicles on I-5 near milepost 37 in Medford that forced a three-hour closure late Sunday, the roads have stayed fairly clear, said ODOT District Manager John Vial. Cars crossing the Siskiyou Pass had to chain up, but the road remained open all night, he said.

However, drivers should continue to drive cautiously for the next several days, as freezing temperatures persist and road crews work to clear the roads, he said.

"People should expect slick roads for the next several days. There simply aren't enough sanders or de-icers to clear everything right away," Vial said. "The bottom line is, this is an all-hands-on-deck exercise. All crews are on 12-hours-on, 12-hours-off shifts, with people working all night, people working all day. All of our equipment basically doesn't stop."

Public works interim director Jim Olson said some city streets might take a while to get cleared, especially with more snow on the way.

"Obviously our first priorities are the arterials and the routes to the hospital," he said. "Even the residential streets are prioritized by need &

steeper and problematic streets are hit first. We're going through the list as quickly as we can."

Both ODOT and the Ashland Police Department reported that drivers were faring well, considering the quick snow accumulation.

"We're doing pretty good," said Sergeant Malcus Williams. "We have a lot of public safety type calls &

cars off the side of the road, power lines down, trees falling down in the street. We haven't had people injured, and we haven't had a lot of collisions where cars run into one another."

Williams said drivers should proceed slowly, but reminded them not to drive so slow that they risk sliding backwards. Walking on the sidewalk is the best option for short distances, he said, but even going on foot required extra care.

"A lot of people are choosing to walk on the street with the vehicles, and with the ice-covered street, that's a very dangerous situation to put yourself in," he said.

Mt. Ashland was open for business Monday, reporting a 24-hour snowfall of 11 inches and plowed and sanded road. Despite less-than-optimal conditions on Interstate 5, fresh snow in the Valley is usually a sign that skiers and snowboarders will flock to the slopes, said Rick Saul, marketing director for the mountain.

"I know school is out so we're anticipating that there will be more than your normal Monday," Saul said.

"When you have11 inches of fresh powder, some people might even call in sick. We're anticipating it's going to be a relatively busy day."

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