The Washington Department of Transportation now says that the I-5 freeway north of Woodland will remain closed until “later” today. Geotechnical engineers have examined the slope, and have determined that it’s safe to start removing some of the debris. There’s still no exact estimate of when northbound traffic might start moving again.
After finally re-opening to traffic early this morning, Highway 30 was closed to for several hours in the area of the St. Johns Bridge, due to a major natural gas leak. The westbound lanes re-opened to traffic at about 1:40 pm, but traffic on Highway 30 has been extremely heavy through the day, all because of the I-5 closure.
If you do plan to use that roadway, budget extra time to deal with this heavy traffic. West Side Highway is down to one lane in the Hazel Dell area, after mud slid onto the road this morning. One lane is open, and traffic is alternating in each direction. The weather and the roads are affecting activities around the area; winter sports events, activities and classes are shut down after classes were closed today in Kelso, Longview, Kalama, Clatskanie and Vernonia.
Woodland and Kalama have already made the call for tomorrow, announcing that there will be no school tomorrow. The Holiday Concert for Seniors at the Longview Library is being postponed for one week. The I-5 closure is also affecting the distribution of The Nickel weekly shopper, as those papers are printed in Oregon. The company is directing people to their web page.
Clark County Regional Emergency Services reports that a strong storm cell came through the Battle Ground area late this morning, and there are multiple reports that a tornado touched down. They say that two commercial buildings were damaged, along with several homes. The Weather Service is joining in the damage assessment, and will and later if this actually was a tornado.