A potent storm barreled into the Northwest from the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, Jan 15.
In Wallowa County, winds, mostly from the south, reached 40-50 mph gusts. Liberty Grange shed some of its roof. School buses left early for Prairie Creek and other rural routes to get ahead of the accumulating drifts. At Wallowa Lake it was difficult to remain upright. Three-foot high wind-driven waves waltzed whitecaps from the south end to the north end of the lake. And on a lot of county roads it was simply difficult to stay on them. County sheriffs and other law enforcement found themselves dealing with an inordinate number of “drive offs”.
“I was on the road one minute and then suddenly I was over here,” said one driver who left Hurricane Creek Road abruptly and involuntarily, and found herself mired in door-deep drifted snow, but still upright with the car still running. Fortunately there were no serious accidents. But county tow trucks were really, really busy.
The storm system intensified quickly enough Wednesday to qualify as a bomb cyclone as the central barometric pressure dropped 0.74 of an inch of mercury in 12 hours. In order for a storm to meet the bomb cyclone criteria, barometric pressure must plummet at least 0.71 of an inch, and do so within a 24-hour period.