Round 2 slams region: Snow expected through the evening

Round 2 slams region: Snow expected through the evening
Courtesy of Julee Ward.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The second round of snow pounded the Willamette Valley Friday afternoon and into the evening.

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The city of Salem got especially hard hit, closing City Hall early and forcing the city to require drivers to chain up or use traction tires just to get around town. The city was receiving about an inch to two inches of snow an hour.

A Winter Storm warning is in effect until 10 a.m. Saturday for the Portland metro area, including Vancouver and other southwest Washington towns, and the western and central parts of the Columbia River Gorge.

The storm forced the cancellation of 45 flights at Portland International Airport by early Friday night. Check your flight.

Round 2 will bring the Portland metro area another 2-4 inches of snow in some spots by Friday night. KATU Meteorologist Dave Salesky said the snow will likely continue until about 11 p.m.

One of the messages that came out of a joint news conference Friday afternoon with the city of Portland, Oregon Department of Transportation and TriMet, was that if you don't have to drive, don't.

"I want to start off by giving a big thank you to everybody who did not drive (Friday)," said City Commissioner Steve Novick. "The traffic conditions have not been nearly as bad as they could have been - that's because a lot of people didn't drive."

He and others suggested taking TriMet if you need to go somewhere.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said the agency used the break in the weather and the fact that many people didn't drive to gear up for the next storm.

"We've been throwing everything that we could at the road," he said. "We've got 44 plows, 35 sanders, 13 de-icers and more than 100 hardworking ODOT people working around the clock."

City representatives said they are concerned about the possibility of freezing rain Saturday and continuing weather conditions that could make the Monday commute a mess. But Salesky said while there is a threat of scattered snow showers and some freezing rain Saturday, warmer air will begin to move into the area Sunday morning and by Sunday night most areas expect, possibly, the west end of the Columbia River Gorge will we be clear of the cold and the snow. 

A female passenger was killed on Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge near Rooster Rock State Park Friday afternoon after the vehicle she was riding in went off the road and collided with a tree, Oregon State Police said.

OSP urged drivers to use caution on Interstate 84, especially in the counties of Hood River and Wasco.

The first system that kicked off the winter weather came in off the Southern Oregon coast mid-morning Thursday, bringing moisture into the Willamette Valley. It pushed temperatures down to the high teens and upper 20s in Portland.

Snow has piled up all over the region, including the Willamette Valley. Clark County, Wash. and areas south of Portland, including, Salem, saw high accumulations of snow. Ridgefield saw three to four inches by Thursday afternoon and Salem had about four inches.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Portland-Vancouver metro area, the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast Range.

Forecasters also say it will be the most widespread snow event for the northern and central Willamette Valley since December 2009.

TriMet information

From TriMet:

We are going into the afternoon commute with buses on chains, all MAX lines running on regular route and TriMet crews working diligently to keep the system running. We thank our riders for their understanding as we all weather this storm. We continue to encourage folks to bundle up and be prepared for delays. Also check before you go at

trimet.org/alerts

MAX:
Currently the MAX system is running pretty well. Trains are running on about 20 to 30 minute frequency. Crews are out and about to deal in case we experience any additional switch or other issue that might arise due to the extreme weather conditions.

We have had some elevators impacted by the cold and packed snow. Currently crews are working to get the Sunset Transit Center and NE 60th Ave MAX Station elevators working.

Buses:
Buses are doing relatively well. They are running on chains so they cannot go more than 25 miles per hour. Despite running slow, buses are running at fairly consistent intervals.

Most of our bus lines are running on regular route. We do have about 7 lines canceled and about 18 others on snow route or detoured.

Remember our main principle in weather like this is Safety over Schedules: If it’s not safe for our operators, riders or equipment, TriMet will alter service. That may mean putting a bus line on snow route, altering a route or canceling a limited run line entirely.

WES:
WES Commuter Rail has been handling the storm rather smoothly and we expect that to continue for this evening’s commute.
 
FOR RIDERS - Get essential tips for riding transit during snow and ice at trimet.org/winterweather.

Ticket machines:

Ticket machines on the west side of the Willamette River are still not accepting credit/debit cards due to a technical issue. Riders should please use cash or another form of fare.

TriMet crews

We've had crews working hard overnight to keep the system moving. Crews will be putting down de-icer on platforms. We want to thank our maintenance crews, bus and rail operators, field staff and others who are braving the harsh weather conditions in an effort to provide service to our riders. And most importantly we want to thank our riders for their patience and understanding.

Check TriMet's Service Alerts page for updates.

Waste Management cancels service Friday

Waste Management announced that crews would not pick up garbage or recycling on Friday in the Portland metro area. Crews will collect up to twice customers' regular amount of recycling or yard waste on the next service day, Waste Management said.

Some Portland employees report to work as usual

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says all City offices will be closed to the public on Friday. Essential city employees are expected to report to work at their usual starting time. Other employees should not come to work. They will be paid for their normal workday, Hales said.

The Mayor's Office said essential functions regarding public safety will continue as normal. That includes Fire, Police, and departments of Water and Transportation.

Tips to keep your car going in cold weather

“You want the oil to get in there and get your lubrication right. At least let it run a couple minutes. If not, basically you're looking at some engine damage on the cylinders and what not because it doesn't have any lubrication to get the pistons going,” said Jeremy Potwood of Les Schwab.

He said it could cost thousands of dollars in engine damage to car if not warmed up.

Other car tips:

  • Check battery—cold can drain it much faster.
  • Check air pressure in tires.  Unbalanced tires could be dangerous to maneuver on slick or snowy roads.
  • Also: frostbite sets in, in fewer than 30 minutes if your skin is exposed with current wind chill.
  • Use hand warmers, gloves, preferably lined mittens to keep heat in.

Winter driving tips from ODOT

If severe winter conditions arrive, ODOT says it will deploy all available tools in its winter arsenal, including plows, sanders and deicers, as appropriate.

Here are some tips for travelers should an icy winter storm strike.

  • No one can safely drive on ice. If roads get icy, consider not driving or delaying your trip until the weather warms and the ice thaws.
  • In ice or snow, allow plenty of stopping distance and watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists because stopping distances are so much longer.
  • ODOT sand trucks, plows and deicer trucks can’t clear roads clogged with traffic. The more traffic stays off the road, the quicker roads can be treated.
  • Consider leaving the driving to the professionals and taking mass transit. Consider walking, riding a bike, working from home or taking the day off until the roads are clear.
  • Don’t abandon a vehicle in heavy traffic. This delays emergency responders, prevents plows and other maintenance equipment from getting through.

Frozen Pipes

People living in Portland with no running water at home should call the Portland Water Bureau’s 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

If you think your pipes are frozen, the Water Bureau recommends turning on faucets throughout the home. If some work and others don’t, there may be a frozen pipe.

To thaw your pipes safely, the Water Bureau recommends using a hair dryer or heat lamp; never use an open flame. Once the pipe has thawed, leave a small amount of water running so it doesn’t freeze again.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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