Freezing rain adds layer on top of snow
The winter storm that blasted through the Portland area Thursday and Friday delivered what was promised: a thick coating of snow throughout the city and suburbs, reaching more than a foot in some places.
The snow showers slowed down overnight Saturday and temperatures have been steadily increasing on Sunday.
The Oregon Department of Transportation continues to warn drivers to stay off the roads in the Willamette Valley, coast, Coast Range and Cascade foothills for at least one more day to give crews time to work on the roads.
Should they venture out, motorists should have chains, an emergency kit with blankets, water and a fully charged cell phone.
Many roads and sidestreets in the Portland area are closed because of slick road conditions. ODOT declared vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds must have chains or traction tires.
Road crews throughout all of Oregon and the Vancouver area are on duty working to clear the roads. However, officials said commuters may expect to be affected on Monday morning.
As of noon on Sunday, most local school districts had yet to make any announcements about whether they would be open on Monday.
On the mountain
Officials at the Mount Hood Meadows ski area were thrilled to see 18 new inches of snow after the long drought this winter.
A press release from the resort called it a powderful winter storm and noted that another eight to 12 inches was expected to fall Friday night and into Saturday.
Resort officials said they anticipate a good turnout of skiers on Saturday even with ODOT advising the public not to drive.
Guests are advised to leave early to allow plenty of time for slow driving to the mountain on snowpacked roads, and only in vehicles equipped with snow tires or chains, the press release said.
Meanwhile, the Cooper Spur Ski Area, located on the north side of Mt. Hood, may open for its first day Saturday.
Sportsmen's show, auto show stay open
Local school districts were closed on Friday. State offices closed in Portland and Salem. Some courts, including Multnomah County Circuit Court, were closed also. Clackamas County courts opened at about 9 a.m. Friday.
Beaverton City Hall and the citys library opened Friday morning for business. Multnomah County libraries and Portlands parks and recreation centers were closed.
Portland International Airport was open and most flights are expected to operate Friday, despite wintery conditions. Friday morning, nine flights were canceled. Flight schedules are available at www.pdx.com.
TriMets MAX lines were running with some weather delays as crews hand to manually operate some switches because of the cold weather. Buses also were running slower because their tire chains.
TriMets Roberta Alstadt reported that a majority of the transit agencys 79 bus lines were running on regular routes. About two dozen TriMet lines were adjusted for snow routes.
We are occasionally seeing a bus get stuck here and there, but we have crews respond to get them back on their way, Alstadt says.
We have more than 200 buses with automatic chains. In addition to those, we have chained up the rest of the fleet. So we have about 500 buses out for the morning commute that either have the traditional chains or the drop down chains.
The cold weather forced elevators to shut down for several hours at the Hollywood Transit Center and at the Northeast 60th Avenue and Northeast 82nd Avenue MAX stations, but TriMet crews are working to correct the problems, she says.
Several private programs and events have been canceled or rescheduled. The Multnomah Dental Society rescheduled its annual Free Childrens Health Fair to Saturday, Feb. 22, at Reynolds Middle School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school is at 1200 N.E. 201st Ave., Fairview.
For more information, call the Multnomah Dental Society, 503-513-5010.
OMSI was closed Friday, but the The Empirical Theater opens at 5:30 p.m. for the Portland International Film Festival. Showtimes are available at www.omsi.edu/empirical-theater
The snow and cold didnt deter the Pacific Northwest Sportsmens Show at Portland Expo Center, which remained open Friday and through the weekend.
The Portland Auto Show also was open at the Oregon Convention Center.
First wave of snow
Thursday's winter storm forced schools to close early and left some drivers sliding on slick streets while an east wind blew snow flurries sideways.
The storm crawled north up the Willamette Valley, hitting Eugene, Albany and Salem before drifting into the Portland area. A several-vehicle pileup closed Interstate 5's southbound lanes south of Albany for a couple of hours Thursday morning.
Once the storm hit Portland, local roads turned slick. The area is under a winter storm watch until about 4 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7. The National Weather Service reported that three to five inches of snow could fall in the Portland area before the storm passes.
On Friday and Saturday, another round of moisture is predicted to move in, starting Friday evening and continuing into Saturday, which could mean snow and rain or possible freezing rain in the central Willamette Valley. Saturday may start dry, but light rain may develop over areas south of Portland with an afternoon round of snow or freezing rain in the region area.
On the road
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, motorists should use extreme caution this weekend. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and wind could create serious problems for travelers in Portland, the Willamette Valley, the Coast Range and the Columbia River Gorge.
ODOT plans to deploy all available tools in its winter arsenal, including plows, sanders and deicers, as appropriate. For updated information about highway work and current travel information throughout Oregon, visit www.tripcheck.com, or call the Oregon road report at 511 or 1-800-977-6368.
Portland General Electric announced Thursday morning that now is the best time to prepare for weather-related power outages and other events. Portland General Electric teamed up with the American Red Cross on its Prepare! initiative, aimed at helping individuals, businesses and communities prepare for emergencies of all sizes. Prepare!, a new multiyear initiative, provides a variety of tools and resources that make simple work of creating emergency kits and putting together a plan in case of an emergency.
"PGE employees are prepared to swing into action if a winter storm hits, and we want our customers to be ready and safe too," said Jim Piro, PGE president and chief executive officer. "Together with Red Cross, we're working to help families and businesses put plans in place to have food, water, light and a heat source available if a power outage were to occur due to a severe winter storm or natural disaster."
Be storm ready
To help prepare for power outages that may occur, PGE customers can visit www.PortlandGeneral.com/Prepare to learn how to put together an outage kit and review tips and ideas. You can also check out its preparedness blog, which covers topics such as safety tips, best picks for emergency food items and more.
PGE recommends all customers have a basic outage kit on hand that includes a flashlight, fresh batteries, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a battery-powered alarm clock and a manual can opener. A cellphone car charger for cellphones or a corded, nonelectric phone at home is also important.
PGE customers are also encouraged to take the "Pledge to Prepare" through the Red Cross at www.RedCross.org/lp/pledge-to-prepare. Taking the online pledge offers access to tools and resources to help families create their own disaster plan. They can also download earthquake and first aid mobile apps and purchase ready-made disaster supply kits.
If the lights go out
If an outage occurs, PGE recommends first checking the circuit breaker or fuse box. If breakers or fuses are OK, call PGE. Report power outages by calling 503-464-7777. Mobile phones can also be registered for two-way texting with PGE to report an outage and request a text update. Customers can also visit www.PortlandGeneral.com/Outage for outage updates. Look outside to see if any utility lines are down; if there are, stay away and call PGE. Turn off all electrical equipment to prevent an overload on the system when power is restored.
Tualatin Valley Water District reminded customers of the importance of being ready and avoiding the damaging effects of frozen plumbing. During the last cold snap in December, TVWD received more than 250 weather-related calls. Most calls were emergency shutoffs related to customer plumbing, such as water running out of the ceiling. TVWD wants its customers to be ready for the latest cold snap.
Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. You may start a fire and at the very least, your pipe will burst. Use hot air from a hair dryer, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner, or a closely monitored heat lamp or electric heater. If your pipes break, shut off the water at the shutoff valve and turn off the circuit breaker or gas to the water heater.
If you have trouble shutting off your water, call your water provider.
KOIN News 6 contributed to this report.