A thin sheet of ice made for a big mess as Mid-Columbia residents tried to make it to work Thursday morning.
The Washington State Patrol’s Yakima District reported 108 collisions, with 54 in the Tri-City area, Lt. Tom Foster said.
Most area schoolchildren got the day off, and some people lost power for part of the day.
Emergency responders had trouble with the icy roads too. A Richland Fire Department engine truck spun 180 degrees on Highway 240, drove off the road and became stuck in the dirt about 5:30 a.m. as it responded to a fire alarm at the Horn Rapids housing development. No one was hurt.
“They were very careful with their response, and, still, being professional drivers, they still went off the road,” Battalion Chief Ted Ricci said.
Another vehicle that went too fast for the conditions crashed into the fire truck around 7 a.m. and caused more damage, Ricci said.
The 8-ton fire truck was stuck until 11 a.m., when a tow truck took it to the city shop, Ricci said. The highway was closed for a while between Robertson Road and Logston Boulevard.
The truck will be out of service for at least a month and will cost more than $5,000 to repair, he said. Luckily, the department has a fourth engine that can fill in, and it will make contingency plans to secure a backup in case something happens to the three operational engines.
Only three-hundredths of an inch of precipitation fell at Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco by Thursday evening, but ice stuck around much of Thursday morning.
Farther south, some highways closed for parts of the day.
Authorities closed Interstate 82 in Oregon between Interstate 84 and the Washington border, and then closed I-84 in most of the eastern part of the state.
Truck driver Jonathan Llanez-Ortuno, 30, of Benton City, was hurt when a 2005 Subaru Outback driven by Dean Ding Yao, 28, of Kennewick, struck him while he stood in the roadway of Interstate 82 just south of the Columbia River, according to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials said Yao hit his brakes when approaching vehicles stopped along the road while driving between 40 and 50 mph, causing him to slide and strike Llanez-Ortuno.
Llanez-Ortuno was listed in serious condition Thursday evening at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, where he was transported after being taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston.
A double-trailer UPS semi-truck, driven by a Vancouver, Wash., man, rolled over on I-84 between Boardman and Arlington. A news release said first responders treated the driver, who was going too fast for conditions, for minor injuries.
The six early morning flights from the Tri-Cities Airport got out Thursday, but each was one to two hours late because of the freezing rain. Airplanes had to be de-iced, and airport crews sanded the runway and taxiways twice, said Ron Foraker, airport director. The first flight made it out at 6:50 a.m., almost an hour late.
Officials canceled classes in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Prosser and Finley, as well as at Columbia Basin College. A number of libraries didn’t open, and Ben Franklin Transit’s service was disrupted in the morning.
Some government offices, including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, delayed opening until 10 a.m.
Rain of less than a tenth of an inch is predicted for Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures will increase to 40 degrees.
The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures of around 50 degrees, closer to normal for this time of year, for Nov. 22 and Nov. 23. There is a chance of rain both days.
The weather service scheduled its air stagnation advisory, which has been in effect most of the week, to expire noon Nov. 21.