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The region could get up to a quarter of an inch of ice in some places, with nearly a half-inch expected in Gresham and Troutdale. The ice could hang around through Wednesday for parts of the region east of Interstate 205.


COURTESY PHOTO - Trees and power lines could be threatened as freezing rain and ice roll into the region Monday night and Tuesday. The National Weather Service says the storm will be followed by a 'Pineapple Express' that could lead to heavy rain and flooding.Mother Nature apparently has one more slick trick up her sleeve for the region: a pile of ice.

National Weather Service meteorologists say a major ice storm could wallop the Portland area — especially near the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley — with freezing rain and ice Monday night and early Tuesday, just as warm air bulldozes in.

The ice could linger into Wednesday near the gorge, according to the weather service. After that, a blast of warm air riding a "Pineapple Express" is expected to slide into the region, bringing rain rain rain and possible flooding to local rivers.

In other words, we're about to find out how that itsy-bitsy spider felt.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Yasmeen Obeidi, 8, turquoise jacket, and her older sister, Mariam, 10, bounce over a jump on Southwest Fisk Terrace in Sherwood.

Ice hangs around

A winter storm watch for the region could last from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17. Rain falling late Monday and early Tuesday could turn to ice and linger throughout the morning, until temperatures warm by Tuesday afternoon.

The region could get up to a quarter of an inch of ice in some places, with nearly a half-inch expected in Gresham and Troutdale. The ice could hang around through Wednesday for parts of the region east of Interstate 205.

That means more downed trees, limbs and power lines. During the Jan. 11 snowstorm, more than 65,000 Portland General Electric customers were without power for several hours because of fallen trees and limbs.

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, an "atmospheric river" of tropical air could roll into the region, scouring the cold air, melt all that snow that's been hanging around for a week or so and, unfortunately, send some local rivers and creeks over their banks.

Don't expect a gradual warm-up and thaw. "We can't be that lucky," says Laurel McCoy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Portland office.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DIEGO DIAZ - A snowy streetscape made the evening brighter during this week's storm. Temperatures are expected to nearly double to the upper 40s and low 50s, as a "Pineapple Express" douses us with an estimated two to nine inches of rain between Monday, Jan. 16, and Thursday, Jan. 19. It could be a repeat of a similar weather pattern 21 years ago that sent Willamette Valley rivers and creeks over their banks, flooding cities and causing about $500 million in property damage.

KYLE DITTMER"Our recent snow event is only impacting the Portland metro area," says Kyle Dittmer, hydrologist-meteorologist with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and a part-time Portland Community College professor. "Whereas the 1996 event had valley snow all across the entire Willamette Valley. The weather pattern is similar: a rapid warming due to a 'Pineapple Express' event with much warm rain falling on top of valley floor snow."

The National Weather Service says rising temperatures will push the snow level up to about 8,000 feet by Tuesday, melting snow in the Cascade Foothills and down to the valley floor. Combine that with expected heavy rain and rivers could rise, McCoy says.

"On top of all that snow around the area, it will melt away pretty quickly, and we'll have a lot of water that will have to go somewhere," she says.

"The good news is that a lot of the Willamette Valley is snow-free, so snow melt will be less of an issue for low-lying areas in the central and southern Willamette Valley," says Colby Neuman, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "Nonetheless, the Coast Range has considerably more snow than normal, hence the concern for the rivers that drain it."

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Daniel John Herrington relaxed in the sun and snow Thursday, Jan. 12, while playing the guitar along the Southwest waterfront.

Worst-case scenario

There are still questions about how hard the region will be hit with the storms. McCoy says the weather service should be able to provide a more accurate estimation by the weekend, when the track of the Pineapple Express can be better determined. If the storm pushes north of the Portland area, it's likely to drop less rain on the region. If it sets up right over the region, "that would be the worst-case scenario for rain," she says.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONTHAN HOUSE - Pet owners brought their dogs out to play in the snow along the waterfront Thursday, Jan. 12.Dittmer, whose rain estimates are a little higher than the weather service's, says the region could see about a quarter of an inch of rain Monday evening, two to three inches on Tuesday, up to five inches on Wednesday, and about an inch on Thursday.

Flooding could hit Johnson Creek on Tuesday, Jan. 17, and Wednesday, Jan. 18, before dropping by Thursday, Jan. 19, Dittmer says. The Pudding River at Aurora is expected to reach the top of its banks Thursday. The Clackamas River could hit the top of its banks by Wednesday. The Yamhill River could be above flood stage Wednesday.

The weather service is also keeping an eye on other local rivers, like the Tualatin and the Sandy, for possible flooding.


Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Aidan Kelly, 11, dumps snow as he and his brother, Finn (not pictured), and their neighborhood friends help shovel his grandfather's driveway Thursday, Jan. 12.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: MARK GARBER - Snow accumulated in Gresham Tuesday evening. The region had been predicted to get one to two inches of snow overnight, but the storm 'over-performed,' according to the National Weather Service.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Snow landed on quiet Pearl District streets Tuesday evening.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Snow blown by a howling east wind whipped across the Sellwood Bridge Tuesday evening.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - A TriMet bus navigated through Portland's snowy streets at Southwest Jefferson Street and Sixth Avenue Tuesday evening.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - One commuter braves the otherwise-impassable streets of downtown Portland early Wednesday morning.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - Branches weighed down by snow and ice block streets in front of the Portland Art Museum.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - A lone commuter trudges across Pioneer Courthouse Square early Wednesday morning.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: BRIAN HOLE - The quiet side streets of Portland's southeast neighborhoods remained muffled by nearly a foot of snow and very little traffic Wednesday morning, as many residents were housebound by the snow dump.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - The iconic Umbrella Man in Pioneer Courthouse Square usually reminds us of a different kind of weather problem.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A church readerboad in Beaverton takes a whimsical approach to the storm.

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