The winter storm bearing down on the Tri-Cities and the state has closed highways, stranded cars and shut down the Tri-Cities Airport on Saturday.
Interstate 82 between Kennewick and the Oregon border was closed about 2:15 p.m. at Coffin Road because of the blowing snow and poor visibility, said the Washingont State Patrol.
Snow continued to fall Saturday after a winter storm dropped two to six inches across the Tri-Cities. Blowing drifts and stranded cars led officials to close roads and highways across the region.
The Tri-City Airport in Pasco planned to close at 3 p.m. All flights arriving and departing after then are canceled.
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The closure follows a decision by Alaska Airlines yesterday to cancel many of the flights going in and out of Seattle. The airline is allowing people to exchange or cancel their tickets prior to their flight.
Ben Franklin Transit also stopped service as well. The bus service’s inclement weather page is expected to be updated before 6 a.m. Monday.
Drifting snow and poor visibility led to several roads being closures.
“We’re all hands on deck today,” said Summer Derrey with the Department of Transportation. “We pulled in a lot of extra resources to help.”
Franklin and Benton county officials said the wind and drifting snow are making driving dangerous. They are asking people to stay home.
Benton and Franklin county plows have stopped running, because of the white out conditions, according to reports.
“Please use extreme caution when traveling as the unplowed roads are very difficult to navigate,” the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said.
There have been multiple crashes across the area. A snow plow that lost control in Franklin County and crashed into a power pole shortly before 9 a.m. cutting power to homes around Selph Landing and Columbia River Road.
Two people are trapped in a multiple vehicle pileup at the Intersection of Interstate 82 and Coffin Road. Several people are reported to be in serious condition.
- Kennewick and Richland canceled all of their programs and rentals at parks and recreation facilities.
- Richland and Mid-Columbia Libraries branches are closed, along with the Horn Rapids Landfill.
- Saturday’s performance of “Newsies” at Hanford High School was canceled as well. People can visit handforddrama.org for information about rescheduled performances.
- While mass at Christ the King Parish isn’t canceled, officials are asking parishioners to stay home and pray. Sunday school is canceled.
- St. Joseph’s Catholic School open house and book fair will be rescheduled.
- Columbia Community Church will not hold services on Sunday.
The snow is also making travel tricky for people trying to leave the the Tri-Cities.
The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for Yakima and Kittitas counties. The high winds are joining the heavy snow to make it difficult to see.
That’s forced the cancellation of many sports events and playoffs statewide. Click here for the latest schedule.
- Highway 241 near Sunnyside because of the poor visibility.
- Interstate 82 between Ellensburg and Yakima.
- Interstate 90 in both directions about six miles east of Ellensburg, after semi trucks spun out and blocked the highway in both directions. No estimated time to reopen.
- Highway 225 near Benton City.
- Highway 240 in the Horns Rapids area.
- Ruppert Road from the “S” curve to Van Giesen Street in West Richland.
- Clodfelter Road from Ridgeline Road to Locust Grove Road.
- Locust Grove Road from the Highway 395 and Interstate 82 interchange to Plymouth Road.
- Webber Canyon Road from Badger Road to Travis Road.
- Finley Road south of Highway 397.
- Nine Canyon Road south of Highway 397.
- Travis Road south of County Well Road.
- Plymouth Road from Highway 14 to Sellards Road.
- Sellards Road from Highway 221 to Plymouth Road.
- McKinley Springs Road west of Highway 221.
The National Weather Service reported the snow isn’t done with the Tri-Cities yet. A winter storm warning was issued for the area lasting until 10 a.m. Sunday.
The warning means the snow can make traveling hazardous or, in some areas, impossible. Police are reporting whiteout conditions along highways near Hanford and on Interstate 82. There have been many reports of minor crashes in across Franklin and Benton counties.
“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” the weather service advisory said.
Forecasters predict the snow could continue through Tuesday with temperatures in the teens and low 20s. The heaviest snows are expected during Saturday night into Sunday morning.
If you need to be on the roads, police are asking people to slow down and give themselves plenty of space between them and the vehicle in front.
“Try to avoid less traveled routes, as snow drifts are likely to develop over the night and into tomorrow,” the Benton County Sheriff’s Office warned.
Check back for updates