Where's the snow? Winter weather stalls out

Where's the snow? Winter weather stalls out »Play Video
Ice glazes a road near Albany while a truck sits on the shoulder at the base of a small incline.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Snow? What snow?

Portland area residents awoke Saturday morning to dry streets and none of the forecasted snow and ice that was supposed to fall overnight.

But that was not the story south of Portland, where ice coated the streets of communities south of Salem and semi trucks jacknifed on highways.

OSP troopers and ODOT report extreme icy conditions in Jackson and Josephine counties and blame those conditions for nearly 20 traffic crashes, most non-injury, since midnight. 

KATU's meteorologist Dave Salesky said late Friday the freezing-rain system stalled slightly over the Salem-Albany area and could arrive in Portland early Saturday morning. But by 8:30 a.m., the streets in Portland remained dry.

By 10 a.m., a light drizzle was falling and the temperature had crept above freezing.

Earlier in the morning Salesky said there have been reports of freezing rain in south Salem and 1/8 of an inch reported in Corvallis. There were also reports of snow and slick conditions in Salem and areas south of Salem.

Salesky said there was still a chance some sort of frozen precipitation might fall in Portland but any amounts would be very light.

By early Saturday afternoon most of the freezing rain will have changed over to plain rain south of Portland, and by about 8 p.m. it will be all rain for most of the south and westside. Areas near the Columbia River Gorge may still experience freezing rain, however.

By Sunday most of the region will be clear of any winter weather as temperatures rise well above freezing west of the Cascades.

Meteorologist Dave Salesky's latest forecast as of 8 a.m. Saturday


Meanwhile, TriMet said it was on alert for snow and ice and it will chain 231 buses overnight and run MAX trains throughout the night to keep the overhead powerlines from accumulating ice. The chains were put away and most all buses and MAX trains are running on regular schedules.

TriMet said it has applied de-icer at 22 Park & Ride lots and transit centers to keep the roadways clear. It also has sanding trucks standing by - just in case.

December forecasts involving moisture and the edges of cold fronts are notoriously hard to predict in our region due to mountains, valleys, wind and the nearby Pacific Ocean.

The forecast low for Sunday is 39 degrees, far too warm for snow.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a statement urging residents in the Willamette Valley not to burn in woodstoves and fireplaces until Saturday.

The DEQ said air pollution levels in Hillsboro reached unhealthy levels Wednesday night due to stagnant air and it said that air pollution levels were expected to rise in Portland, Beaverton, and Salem as well.

Health officials advise that people limit vigorous outdoor activity during evening and morning hours when pollution levels are at their highest.

Additionally, a Stage 2 burn ban is in effect for Clark County and was issued by the Southwest Clean Air Agency. This means that the use of all fireplaces, pellet stoves, woodstoves, and inserts is prohibited until air quality improves unless they are your sole source of heat.

The Southwest Clean Air Agency also put into effect a stage 1 burn ban for Lewis and Cowlitz counties. This means that outdoor burning, the use of fireplaces and uncertified woodstoves is prohibited until air quality improves.

Again, households without alternative heat sources are exempt.

The Oregon Department of Transportation warned drivers to be prepared and to use caution this weekend and it issued a travel advisory from Friday afternoon through Saturday.

"Motorists should plan for the worst," said ODOT Region Manager Jason Tell. "They shouldn't be fooled if things look good in the morning. Weather will be changing all day. Motorists should prepare for winter driving conditions, and especially carry chains."

ODOT said it will schedule additional shifts throughout the weekend to plow and sand roads as necessary. It has already been spreading chemical de-icer on state roads this week.

ODOT warns motorists to be extra careful on bridges, on-ramps, off-ramps, and transition ramps since they tend to get more ice more quickly than other areas because they are more exposed.

Get complete weather updates anytime on KATU.com