PHOTOS: Friday opens with blanket of snow for Portland metro
Portland woke up to snow on the ground Friday, but more is predicted later in the day and into Saturday.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for much of the region through noon, as well as a blizzard warning for the Western Columbia Gorge. Both alerts are expected to be extended.
This part of Oregon also is expected to see ice accumulation, and roads with snow will also be icy, so transportation officials are urging people to stay home and use extreme caution if they have to drive.
Severe weather shelters opened Thursday and most government offices closed by noon because of the arriving major winter storm.
Legacy Health announced the mass vaccination clinic at the Oregon Convention Center would be postponed.
"To ensure the safety of patients and staff, the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site at the Oregon Convention Center will be closed Friday for vaccination appointments," a message sent Thursday from Legacy Health states. "If someone is scheduled for an appointment Friday, a member of our team will contact you to assist with rescheduling your appointment.
While most Portland-area students are still participating in distance learning due to the pandemic, public schools that were open for limited in-person instruction or activities like athletic conditioning, announced site closures Friday. All private and charter schools in the area closed Thursday and remained closed Friday, except for online learning.
Many of the severe weather shelters that have opened in the past cannot be used this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, 300 beds are available at the following three locations:
• Oregon Convention Center, 965 N.E. First Ave., open until 8 a.m. Friday.
• Metro Garage, 578 N.E. Irving St., open 24 hours.
• Arbor Lodge Severe Weather Shelter, 1952 N. Lombard St., open until 8 a.m. Friday.
In addition, also this year, a warming space, with staff or volunteers on hand, where people won't be able to sleep but can come in and warm up. It's at the Metro Garage, same site as the shelter, and opened Thursday.
Information on the availability of shelters and transportation to them can be found by calling 211 or by clicking here.
TriMet has changed several routes when streets became too slippery to drive safely. The buses that are out have automatic drop down chains that operators can deploy with the push of a button. Both MAX and WES trains do well in snow, although freezing rain and ice on the overhead wire can impact MAX service. TriMet's LIFT paratransit service may be adjusted if road conditions become dangerous.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency Thursday morning because of the approaching storm. All Portland and Multnomah County offices are scheduled to remain closed Friday.
The Oregon Health & Science University has announced it will close its COVID-19 vaccination clinics through Sunday. The three clinics that will be closed on Feb. 13 and 14 are: the drive-through mass vaccination clinic at the PDX Red Economy parking lot; the drive-through clinic at the Hillsboro Stadium; and the OHSU patient clinic in the Multnomah Pavilion on OHSU's Marquam Hill campus. All appointments already scheduled for those days will be rescheduled.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation said they are ready for the storm. That includes training new employees on de-icers, chains, plows and sanding machines. Crews began applying de-icer in the Portland metropolitan region on Wednesday and will add salt when necessary. Steep streets like Sunset Highway west out of the Vista Ridge Tunnel, heading up toward Sylvan Hill and Breeze Hill going north from Highway 217, are among the spots where motorists often struggle when winter weather hits.
"When we get a lot of people deciding that they have to go out and drive around in the snow, that's when we get major delays," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. "And that means that our maintenance vehicles can't clear the roads very well, either."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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