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Jan-04-2008 12:39printcomments

High Winds Overturn Vehicles, Closing Interstate 84 for Two Hours

No injuries were reported when several large commercial trucks tipped over this morning on the freeway east of Portland.

Crash on I-84 in Oregon, overturned semi trucks: 1-4-08
Photos courtesy: Oregon State Police

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Oregon State Police say Interstate 84 near Pendleton reportedly has reopened after being closed Friday morning due to high winds and poor visibility. The area can be notorious for strong winds and this morning it lived fully up to its reputation.

Investigators say three commercial vehicles and another vehicle overturned and some Oregon State Police vehicles were damaged by flying rocks.

In spite of how bad it looks, OSP Lieutenant Greg Sherman reported that none of the drivers received injuries related to the number of overturned vehicles between milepost 216 and 218 east of Pendleton.

Additionally, five state police patrol cars and two OSP Fish & Wildlife pickups operated by troopers responding to the overturned vehicles received windshield and body damage from wind-driven airborne rocks. At its peak, Sherman said blowing dust reduced visibility to near zero. Drivers need to use extreme caution in these conditions and pull to the side of the road when necessary.

Greg Sherman with OSP in Pendleton says the day wasn't very cold, "well into the 40's" he said, noting that the problem is strictly wind related.

But the problems brought about by high winds can quickly overwhelm a driver, adding that in his 18 years working with Oregon State Police out of Pendleton, no period of high winds have topped the last three days.

"I can honestly say that in all of my time here, we haven't seen the winds quite like this."

He says this morning, an unusual wind came in and started from the bottom of the hill. "This year has been different, we've were hit with high wind on the base of cabbage this morning and things just started happening."

Sherman says there was a similar truck rollover last month, but today was significantly worse.

"The biggest thing truck drivers have to remember is that if they are carrying a light load, they need to pull over and let things like this blow over."

He says trucks traveling with reduced weight can be negatively affected by wind, particularly on hills and in the corners. They need to slow down and spend time in a truck stop when the wind increases to dangerous levels.

The series of photos was recorded by Oregon State Police troopers working the scene on the Interstate shortly after the trucks.

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