SPOKANE — Icy roads turned Spokane into an ice rink on Monday night, resulting in hundreds of vehicle collisions through Tuesday morning, mostly along Interstate 90.
Washington State Patrol responded to 110 collisions across Eastern Washington on Monday, primarily between Spokane Valley and Spokane, Trooper Ryan Senger said. Eighty-six of those crashes were in Spokane County, he said.
U.S. Highway 395 was temporarily closed in both directions Tuesday after a deadly crash near Jumpoff Road in Chewelah.
One person died and two were transported to a nearby hospital via Life Flight in critical condition, the Washington State Patrol told KHQ.
Spokane police said they responded to 90 traffic collisions on Monday. Sixty-five of those crashes were between noon and midnight, Spokane Police Department spokesman Cpl. Nick Briggs said.
Two semitrucks jack-knifed eastbound on I-90 near Fancher Road at about 6 p.m., bringing traffic to a halt for about 31/2 hours, the Department of Transportation reported. Transportation’s snow plows got stuck in the icy traffic jam until other trucks arrived from the department’s Geiger facility, department spokesman Ryan Overton said.
Traffic was made worse after 7:30 p.m. Monday when the McCarthey Athletic Center emptied out after the Gonzaga men’s basketball game.
City road crews were turning their resources and attention on Tuesday morning to plowing residential areas, city spokesman Brian Coddington said. Crews will focus on mitigating melting snow and freezing ice on arterials, hills, hospitals, schools and in downtown Spokane, he said.
There were 15 traffic collisions in the city during the Tuesday morning commute, Briggs said. He said that there were some reports of cars sliding at the curve of Ray and Thor streets on the South Hill by about 8:30 a.m., he said.
Drivers were urged to use caution when driving north of Spokane on U.S. highways 2 and 395, Senger said.
Senger also urged drivers across Eastern Washington to take extra time when traveling this week and to slow down. Have an emergency kit in your car, including blankets, water and potentially a flare, Senger said.
Temperatures throughout the Inland Northwest are expected to remain in the teens to low 30s through Friday. Towns in northeast Washington and North Idaho will see single digits.