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Ice coats lower valley

School bus hit on slick highway

— A wintry mix of snow and ice is being blamed for a crash involving a Sunnyside High School bus last night.

It is also responsible for prompting the shutdown of a county government, delaying classes and stopping a U.S. Congressman in his tracks today.

The Grizzlies bowling team was returning from a canceled match against Eastmont when it’s bus was struck at about 5:30 p.m. near Mattawa.

School District spokeswoman Jessica Morgan said nobody was injured.

“And another bus was sent to retrieve the students,” she said.

According to initial reports, the bus driver pulled to the side of the road to clear freezing rain from the windshield. That’s when a car hit the bus.

Further details were not available at press time.

That’s not the only issue caused by the freezing rain that began blanketing the area about 4 p.m. yesterday.

The freezing rain felt like salt pellets as it picked up. Many businesses sent employees home early.

And area school districts began calling for two-hour late starts this morning.

Klickitat County commissioners ordered government offices closed because of the weather system is expected to bring more sleet and freezing rain through this afternoon.

Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, also postponed his visit to Yakima Neighborhood Health’s medical and dental clinic in Granger.

Other Sunnyside, Prosser and Grandview sports teams also postponed competitions slated for last night.

Yakima Municipal Airport was also shut down about 7:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service has a winter weather advisory for an “ice storm” in the Lower Yakima Valley through 6 p.m. today. Officials anticipate up to a half-inch of ice accumulation.

That is expected to give way to above freezing temperatures and heavy rain by tomorrow, when the high is expected to reach 41, causing rapid melting.

“There could be sharp rises in rivers and creeks. We’re keeping an eye on that,” meteorologist Mary Wister said.

“The Naches River is one of concern, and so is the Klickitat River.”

Wapato schools are closed today due to weather and road concerns. And Paterson schools sent students home early yesterday.

Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic closed its urgent care centers in Sunnyside and Granger early yesterday, too.

“For the safety of our staff, patients and clients, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic is closing all sites from Yakima to Prosser at 4 p.m. due to inclement weather,” spokeswoman Amber Betts said. “Please be safe if you must go out in the freezing rain.”

The clinic planned to operate under a normal schedule today, Betts said.

Sunnyside Paterson, Prosser and Grandview school districts were all on two-hour delays today. And Perry Technical Institute told students to wait until 11 a.m. to arrive.

Yakima Valley College canceled all evening classes last night at its Yakima and Grandview campuses, as well as its Sunnyside learning center.

Several area businesses also sent some employees home early due to freezing rain, including Sunnyside Ace Hardware and The Daily Sun in Sunnyside. And the city Airport Commission canceled its meeting.

State Department of Transportation officials also ordered Interstate 90 closed at Ellensburg overnight due to snow and ice, as well as a snow slide near Snoqualmie Pass.

The interstate remained closed at press time, with Transportation crews planning to assess conditions today.

On U.S. 97 last night, transportation officials required traction tires and chains on vehicles with 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight until further notice.

In Oregon, Interstate 84 closed yesterday in the Columbia River Gorge between Troutdale and Hood River because of ice.

The interstate was also closed further east between Pendleton and LaGrande.



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brambi1950 1 year, 8 months ago

Not being disrespectful to the district, but one of my concerns (my granddaughter) was in that accident, is why did no one from the district have the respect to call the parents of the girls on the bus of the accident. I realize the girls called home, but would have been nice to get "official" word from the district and their concern and what was being done. The accident happened at 5:30 p.m. and the second bus did not arrive there for 3 hours. I realize the weather slowed them down, but 3 hours for those kids to be frightened, frustrated and some never having experienced an accident before. I wish we could get some answers regarding the whole situation and how it was handled. Our granddaughter has gone to the doctor for headaches and referred.

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