Wintry weather mix hits Willamette Valley


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Winter weather continues to brew in Oregon with snowfall expected Wednesday in higher elevations and possibly dusting the Willamette Valley.

The KOIN 6 News weather team forecasted 1 to 4 inches of valley snow mostly in elevations above 500 feet.

A Winter Weather Advisory was in place until Wednesday afternoon for Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah and Washington counties.

Highway 6 was closed in the morning due to several cars spinning out, according to ODOT, but the road has since reopened. The department advised drivers should avoid highways along the coast range.

Highway 6 temporarily closed on Wednesday due to inclement weather (Mary L. Lewis) December, 2021.

Forest Grove posted on Twitter around 10 a.m. Highway 6 and roadways near Gales Creek and Glenwood were in bad condition.

It was an exhausting day for truck drivers traveling along Highway 6, too.

Mike a truck driver explained “I drive all over the western united states and Oregon has the worst chain laws because they don’t snow plow their roads like they should.”

He feels like the burden is on everyone to navigate through these areas safely.

Mike already chained up four separate times in Oregon and he’s had to get his truck towed out of the snow with chains on.

Don Hamilton of ODOT explained that the coast range, and Highway 6, are a “significant problem” but said the department is prepared for icy roads with deicer, salt and snowplows.

ODOT also asks drivers to do their part too.

“Clearly when we see conditions like this, when we’re getting a lot of snow and we’re getting a lot of slushy stuff, everybody needs to slow down,” Don Hamilton of ODOT said.

He said otherwise, we are going to see more spin outs on highway 6, when there was a decent amount of snow on the road.

But travelers by trade, like Mike, think more needs to be done to maintain these critical passes for truck drivers like him this winter.

“By golly when it starts costing people’s lives, it’s not worth it,” Mike said.

On Wednesday, Highway 26 near Government Camp was wet and slushy as snow continues to fall there.

On the other side of Portland, snow around the Sunset rest area shut down traffic along Highway 26.

Some residents in West Hills of Portland said if it’s seedy or not safe on the road Wednesday they’re not planning to drive at all.

“If we have bad weather we just stay at home,” said Frankie Anderson, a West Hills resident. “We have enough provisions. We just hunker down and stay home.”

This follows Tuesday’s wintry mix which caused some school closings and delays, as well as crashes from icy roads.

Traffic officials are warning drivers to be safe. There’s not a ton of weather to be concerned about yet, but people should remain aware.

ODOT and PBOT both said they had crews overnight tracking the weather to make sure the roads remain manageable.

KOIN Weather Alerts

“We’re getting ready to put deicer on the roads, but you don’t want to do that when it’s raining,” said ODOT’s Don Hamilton. “We’ve got deicer trucks on the roads looking for spots. These would be up in the West Hills, that’s where it would be cold and icy. But when they start deicing depends on the forecast.”

ODOT — TripCheck
PBOT — Winter Weather Basics

Hamilton also noted that the agency is still prepared to take on the winter weather despite a staffing shortage.

“We’re well staffed right now for what we need. If we get hit with a major event of ice and snow, we’re gonna probably have to call in for some extra help from other maintenance crews around the state,” he told KOIN 6 News.

KOIN closings and delays

On Tuesday, John Brady of PBOT said the weather created “a nice kind of dress rehearsal” for possible winter conditions to come this season.

Like ODOT, Brady said on Tuesday, PBOT crews also focused on salting roads on higher elevations above 500-feet such as the West Hills.

“Because of the timing, normally shift change is at 6 a.m., we’re going to bring in the salt crews at 3 a.m. so they can put it down before the morning commute,” Brady said.

If you are planning on driving in those high elevation areas make sure your car is ready and have a safety kit in your car in case of emergency.

PBOT said to drive with chains on and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.

Trimet also told KOIN 6 News that ice can impact Max and bus operations so keep an eye on your route before you leave.

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