Officials advise travelers to take caution and drive slow on rain-covered roads

Road officials ask motorists and bicyclists to be extra alert the next few days with the prospect of heavy rain to hit the Gresham area and the Columbia River Gorge.

Friday and Saturday, March 7-8, should be partly cloudy with a few sprinkles, but heavier rain should develop Sunday, according to forecasts.

Don Hamilton, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said some areas are already soaked by February’s storms. Additional rain may bring standing water to roadways and increase the threat of slides, Hamilton said.

“Reduced traction between tires and the road, along with reduced visibility, can make driving less predictable,” he said.

It’s been a busy past few weeks for road and transportation workers who have been working overtime and long hours to clean up after storms have brought on ice, landslides and downed trees.

Troutdale General Store owner Terry Smoke and his wife live in Orient, where he said the wind was terrible Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

“But it was a southerly wind,” Smoke said, adding that he heard it blowing “like a train running all night long.”

When he left for work in the morning, Smoke said trees and limbs were down everywhere.

Today, the same wind is calmer in front of his store in downtown Troutdale.

“The wind is blowing down the street from the westside, pulling the door open and closed,” he said, “but it’s not that east wind.”

And of course, it’s also raining.

Kyle Dittmer, a hydrologist-meterologist with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, said Northwest Oregon has rebounded mostly from the drought-like fall and winter Oregon had been experiencing through January.

Looking at reports of snow-water equivalents from across the region, Dittmer said we are catching up substantially across the region.

Dittmer said the snow-water equivalent Thursday morning on Mount Hood was only about 5 inches behind normal, compared to three weeks ago, when it was 20 inches behind.

“We’ve caught up 15 inches in the past three weeks, which is pretty amazing,” Dittmer said.

As for the Central Oregon Cascades region, above the McKenzie River, they haven’t caught up as much. That region is still 11 inches behind in snow-water equivalent, compared to 19 inches three weeks ago.

ODOT reminds drivers to be alert for slides when traveling near hills and cliffs.

Also keep a safe distance when driving on slick roads, drive slowly through puddles, turn on your headlights and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.

For road conditions and information about traffic incidents, call 5-1-1 or visit before you head out.

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