Tale of the snow: Slick roads, great skiing

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- The weather caused headaches on the roads all over the entire Portland metro Monday morning, with some of the worst slowdowns on Highway 26.

Inbound traffic near the Sylvan Avenue exit remained slowed at noontime as road crews were busy trying to keep the roads safe and passable.

One driver in Southeast Portland lost control and slid into a power pole. On the highways, a massive backup on Hwy 26 happened when a semi truck crashed into the jersey barrier at Cedar Hills Boulevard, forcing ODOT to shut down every eastbound lane.

ODOT spokesperson Kimberly Dinwiddie said the agency had 15 de-icer vehicles out overnight. Those crews will keep working around-the-clock for the next several days to get the current road conditions back to normal -- and to prevent any incoming weather from doing more damage.

"Anything that is wet on the ground overnight tonight is going to be frozen tomorrow, so even though we're starting to see some of the roadways drying up, travelers should still expect for some slick spots Tuesday morning," Dinwiddie told KOIN 6 News.

She added they're especially concerned about the drive-in Wednesday morning because of the inclement weather expected Tuesday afternoon and night.

John Brady with the Portland Bureau of Transportation said salt worked on West Burnside to break up the ice.

The road was closed for 2 hours but, he said, "We were able to get to get it open quicker than in the past by using salt. It was not optimal, but a decent result."

City crews are not likely going to work to keep snow and ice off your residential street. Their focus is the main roads, including key school routes. That means, though, there will likely be icy streets outside your house on Tuesday morning.

School districts said they're keeping a close eye on the forecast but have not made any decisions on whether to close schools on Tuesday or any day this week when weather is an issue.

At Mount Hood

In the last two days, 26 inches of snow fell at Mount Hood Meadows, bringing some of the best ski conditions of the year.

Skiers like Shannon Becerra are being rewarded for their patience.

The snow "is awesome. It's squeaky when you step on it," Becerra told KOIN 6 News. "Dry, powdery, fluffy, cold and beautiful. It's pretty nice."

Since last Wednesday, nearly 3 feet of snow has fallen, and now the winds are calm.  Hundreds of people were motivated to hit the slopes from the snow.

"I'm impressed with the way our placeholders have hung in there for all kinds of different conditions," said Dave Tragethon of Mount Hood Meadows. "Maybe now this is their reward for hanging in there with us."

What drivers need to know

Washington County is requiring traction devices in 3 snow zones: 175th Ave between Scholls Ferry and Rigert Roads, Barnes Road, 118th east to the county line and Cornell Road from Cedar Hills Blvd west to the county line. 

TriMet told riders to prepare for possible delays. Lines 15 and 19 are on snow routes and using chains and line 63 has been canceled. 

There are chained buses ready in case they're needed. With chains they can only go 25 mph. Check TriMet alerts for delays. 

The MAX lines will be using switch heaters overnight to prevent freezing. 

NE Gilham from East Burnside to NE David is closed. Check out more Portland road closures here. 

Oregon State Police provided these tips for driving safely in winter conditions


* Expect the unexpected. Be informed and prepared when traveling on any of our highways. 

* When traveling anywhere, plan ahead and take known routes if possible. Our weather has been changing quickly and sometimes without warning. For road conditions in Oregon, call 5-1-1 or (800) 977-ODOT (6368). Outside Oregon, dial (503) 588-2941. Visiting TripCheck.com on the Internet provides information on road and weather conditions, incidents and traffic delays, and links to numerous cameras on many mountain passes and major routes. 

* Take the time to keep up on current and future weather conditions in the area you are traveling, especially if going to or through higher elevations and mountain passes, areas where your vehicle needs to have appropriate traction tires or devices. 

* If considering a remote route that you have never traveled on, don't hesitate to contact available road and weather condition phone numbers or Internet resources, or contact police or highway department officials. 

* Prepare an emergency kit to place in your car for longer trips and keep track of how much fuel is in your tank, especially if traveling unfamiliar routes or into remote locations. 

* Let friends and family know what routes you plan to take when on a trip, keeping them updated and letting them know if these plans change. 

* Drive to the conditions. If it's icy or wet, increase your following distance and reduce your speed. Use your headlights to improve not only your visibility, but also so others can see your vehicle. 

* In bad weather, don't use cruise control.

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