PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Transportation crews in the Portland area and across Oregon are working around the clock to stay on top of winter road conditions.
Downtown Portland saw the city’s first few snow flurries on Tuesday morning after a light dusting accumulated early in the West Hills.
A mix of rain and snow hit some spots across Portland throughout the morning, but the West Hills was the only area seeing any type of accumulating dusting.
Still, icy conditions were blamed for multiple crashes throughout the metro area on Tuesday morning.
The wintry mix dried up by Tuesday afternoon but may return early Wednesday morning if the projected cold temperatures hold.
Closures, delays and outages — oh my!
Various schools around the area have announced 2-hour delays, including Columbia Gorge Community College, Mt. Pleasant School District, Goldendale School District, Mill A School District, , Horizon Christian Hood River, Santiam Canyon School District, Sherman County School District and Centerville School District.
Rainier School District, White Salmon School District, La Center School District, Lyle School District, Hood River County School District, Vernonia School District, and Clatskanie School District are all closed for the day.
Many schools have put their buses on snow routes.
Severe Weather Shelters
Officials in Portland said Monday they will open severe weather shelters for everyone and anyone as the forecast dictates.
“On nights when we activate severe weather, no one will be turned away,” said Denis Theriault.
The Joint Office is working with Transition Projects. Theriault said there will be about 2000 beds open Monday night, including year-round beds and beds open all winter regardless of the forecast.
Transportation crews prepare
Crews across Portland and the surrounding areas were busy putting down deicer on Tuesday night.
“The deicer inhibits the bond of ice or snow to the road surface itself so it’s an effective tool as long as the rains don’t wash it away before the ice or snow hits,” said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson Don Hamilton.
ODOT crews worked around the clock, seizing on the opportunity to make the roads as safe as they could before more wintry weather comes.
“Crews will be out through the night Tuesday night into Wednesday as conditions require,” Hamilton explained. “WE are going to take whatever tool is appropriate. If we start to get some snow, if we start to get some ice, we will get deicer out there and salt out there — if that’s what’s needed.”
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is also working overtime. PBOT had about a dozen trucks ready to treat the roads at a moment’s notice.
“Tonight is really critical, it’s a great opportunity for us to take advantage of the dry conditions to get deicer and potentially road salt down in a proactive way that can help reduce risk on snow or icy conditions that might occur Wednesday afternoon or evening.”
PBOT is focusing on its snow and ice routes and on major thoroughfares like Burnside, Sandy and Capital Highway.
“Our snow and ice routes prioritize the routes that serve TriMet buses, police and fire vehicles, access to hospitals and the warming shelters,” said Rivera.
As in any situation where slick roads could be a factor, PBOT is advising drivers to take public transit or delay their travel plans.
“If you do insist on driving, everyone who drives in Portland in the wintertime should have snow chains in your vehicle,” Rivera said.
PBOT said earlier on Tuesday they were keeping an eye on the West Hills, but also on Mount Scott on the east side.
“Be aware of both where you are and where you are traveling too, especially because there are going to be differences in elevations,” said PBOT spokesman John Brady. “If you know you are going into the hills, you might want to give yourself extra time.”
PBOT installed signs at 500-foot and 1000-foot elevations in the hills so that drivers know where rain might start to transition into snow. The bureau will be doing 24-hour operations in 12-hour shifts, and are prepared to adjust those shifts if conditions warrant it.
TriMet has crews working around the clock to monitor the weather situation. About 75% of buses have drop-down chains that can be deployed as needed. Crews will be prepping equipment to ensure buses and trains keep moving throughout the week.
Riders are encouraged to check TriMet Alerts before heading out, as well as allotting extra time and using caution while getting to and from bus stops and train stations. Winter weather tips are available here.
Over at the Portland International Airport, there have not been any major delays or cancellations due to weather. Keep an eye on the status of arrivals and departures throughout the week here.
NEW KOIN 6 Weather Podcast:
Much like our original Your Weather podcast, Meteorologists Kelley Bayern and Joseph Dames will walk you through what the forecast means for you. Unlike the original Your Weather podcast, they focus on what the models, long-range forecasts and historical data mean for all of us.
This week, they take a look at a drop in temperatures and some wet weather headed our way. Does that mean snow for the Portland-metro area? Or, will it all stay as rain?
Your Two-Week Weather podcasts will drop every other Wednesday. Our original Your Weather podcasts will continue as before, dropping on the opposite weeks.
As always, you can listen to the podcast by clicking HERE, or download on iTunes, Spotify or GooglePlay.
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