BOISE -- Freezing rain and wet roadways are making for challenging driving conditions throughout much of western Idaho and eastern Oregon Wednesday morning.
An overnight storm dropped a little more than 0.15 inches of rain in Boise, and quickly made rural roadways very slick. Untreated roadways in spots throughout Owyhee and Elmore counties caused especially hazardous driving conditions.
Conditions in eastern Oregon were even tougher.
Authorities briefly closed a 30-mile stretch of westbound Interstate 84 around 7 a.m. after slick conditions and multiple slideoffs. The interstate was closed from about 6 miles west of Ontario, Oregon to 8 miles west of Huntington, Oregon. A single lane is now opened in the area.
ODOT Public Information Officer Tom Strandberg said parts of I-84 were repeatedly openend and closed due to traffic problems Wednesday. "It's defintely pretty treacherous out there," Strandberg told KTVB.
A number of area schools closed Wednesday due to freezing rain.
Several injury crashes kept Treasure Valley law enforcement officers busy throughout the early morning:
- U.S. Highway 95: Two semi trucks crashed at milepost 10, blocking the southbound lanes
- Interstate 84: Injury crash westbound at milepost 76 near Elmore County
- Cloverdale Road and Kuna-Mora Road: Injury crash
- Injury crash at 6th and Hays in downtown Boise
Meanwhile, mountain locations are reporting several inches of new snow, with more expected throughout Wednesday and into the early morning hours Thursday.
More rain and temperatures in the low 40s are expected in the Treasure Valley Wednesday afternoon, with a lower chance of freezing rain again Thursday morning.
DEPUTIES PREPARE FOR TROUBLE
The Ada County Sheriff's Office says winter storms typically cause more problems during morning hours than overnight. Sergeant Matthew Clifford said that's because drivers are more hurried and apt to cause accidents during the daily commute.
"Sometimes we just get people that slide right off the road, but passerby's will call them in, and we'll go respond and they're not even there," said Clifford.
Clifford says deputies on the morning shift are extra ready after a weather event.
"We'll have our day shifts prep for when they come on duty in the mornings, so they already have all the equipment they need," said Clifford. "A lot of times they'll skip their morning briefing so that they can just hit the road when we know there's going to be a storm coming in."
AUTHORITIES ASK FOR PATIENCE
Clifford said the best thing to keep in mind when drivers hit the roads is patience.
"We want people to get up in the morning, they know there's going to be a storm usually the night before and prep their day to come a little earlier," he said. "Whenever they're driving in the snow, it is really all about patience. You just slow down a little bit. It might take you five more minutes, ten more minutes to get to work, but if you crash your car it'll probably take you a lot longer to get to work."
Both the Idaho Transportation Department and Ada County Highway Department applied magnesium chloride and salt to area roadways Tuesday night. The mixture works to ward off slick spots.