Leaders issue final warning ahead of snowy winter storm
As a freezing gust of winter weather swirled through the pillars of City Hall, local leaders gathered on the building's steps to issue their own warning.
Snow — and lots of it — is expected to fall as soon as 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8. All of Oregon is under a winter weather advisory and Portland in particular is under a winter storm warning, according to the National Weather Service.
Elected officials, however, remain undaunted in the face of one to three inches of expected snowfall.
"We learned a lot of lessons from the storms of 2017," said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. "We have more plows, more salt and more resources."
The Portland Bureau of Transportation says it has enough salt on hand to pass over 1,000 miles of streets four times. For context, there are 4,851 lane miles controlled by the agency within city limits.
It costs about $200,000 for every 24 hours of snow response. PBOT also plans to apply a mix of sand and salt in trouble spots. Other miles have been targeted for applications of magnesium chloride.
"Salt doesn't stop everything, but it's a very helpful tool in our toolbox," said Chris Warner, interim director of PBOT, during the Friday afternoon press conference at City Hall.
Representatives from the Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue assured citizens that rescuers will respond to all emergencies, no matter what conditions are present on roadways.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said drifts of snow may be especially severe on Interstate 84 heading east, as well as East Multnomah County. All the authorities present urged motorists to slow down, provide extra space before stopping or turning and to resist the temptation to pass slow-moving snowplows.
Officials with the Joint Office of Homeless Services and the Fire Bureau asked everyday folks to call 2-1-1 if they see anyone who appears to be unsheltered and in need of a warm place to sleep, calling it a "life or death" matter.
The joint office working with Transition Projects has opened 320 severe weather beds so far, bringing the total number of winter and severe weather beds available locally up to 2,000.
"No one will be turned away, and if necessary we have other buildings online in case they're needed," said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. She praised PBOT for putting the county's warming shelters on plow routes for the first time ever.
Added Fire Lt. Rich Chapman: "This is one of those moments where we really need to be a village."
Want to track the Portland Bureau of Transportation's plows and salt trucks in real time? Click here.
• Do you have an emergency kit in your car? What about chains? It's also a smart time to ensure that your smartphone is fully charged and that you have plenty of groceries, batteries, water and other supplies.
• Can't find an accurate weather forecast? The National Weather Service offers updated predictions at this site.
• Can't call 211 INFO? Visit their website here.
• Hats, socks, blankets, gloves and other winter-suited gear is in short supply. If you're able to donate, Transition Projects accepts donations 24/7 at its 665 N.W. Hoyt Street location.