Mid-Columbia’s first snow sends cars sliding

Loretto J. Hulse, Herald staff writerDecember 20, 2013 

Commuters slid and skidded on snow into work Friday morning, but it had almost melted away by the afternoon.

Those traveling north weren’t so lucky. The Washington State Patrol reported heavy snow in Spokane and Adams counties caused numerous accidents Friday afternoon.

The westbound lanes of Highway 90 were closed for hours seven miles east of Ritzville because of a multiple-car crash that claimed at least one life.

Poor road conditions caused at least two car wrecks around the Mid-Columbia Friday morning. The collisions injured three people, two of whom were taken to local hospitals.

Peter M. Strawick, 77, of Hermiston, was injured when he lost control of his pickup and rolled on Interstate 82 east of Kennewick, police said. He was taken to Trios Health in Kennewick before he was transferred to another hospital.

Beatriz Camarena, 52, of Milton-Freewater, was taken to Walla Walla General Hospital after her Ford Focus crashed into an Acura on Old Milton Highway, police said. Her condition was not immediately available.

The National Weather Service doesn’t expect the snow in the Moses Lake area and north to Spokane to last beyond Sunday. But travelers will have to cope with a mix of rain and snow through Monday. The sun should come out Christmas Eve and Christmas to melt any lingering snowdrifts.

In the Tri-City area, it’s not likely we’ll see any more snow before Christmas. The National Weather Service predicts we’ll have a few rainy, breezy days, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day should dawn bright and sunny. Though you’ll still want a warm jacket, temperatures will peak in the high 30s during the day, dropping to the mid-20s at night.

If you’re heading for the west side, the state Department of Transportation reports I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass is slushy in places and traction tires are recommended. The forecast calls for mixed rain, wind and snow through Monday.

Interstate 82 over Manastash Ridge between Yakima and Ellensburg will be slick with rain but the chance of snow is slight.

For up-to-date forecasts for Washington and Oregon, go to www.wrh.noaa.gov/pdt.

The state patrol cautions travelers to be prepared for winter weather across the state. Here are some tips for winter driving:

— Allow for extra time to reach your destination and drive with your headlights on.

— Leave extra room between you and the car in front and don’t pass snow plows.

— Don’t let your gas tank fall below half full.

— Before leaving, pack a winter survival kit with a flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves and first-aid supplies.

— Make sure you have tire chains, an ice scraper, snowbrush, jumper cables and road flares in your vehicle.

For more travel information call the Department of Transportation hotline, 511, or go to www.wsdot.com.

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