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The City urges early preparedness for winter weather

The City urges early preparedness for winter weather

(PORTLAND, Ore.) — The City’s bureaus of Transportation (PBOT) and Emergency Management (PBEM) urged Portlanders today to prepare for winter weather. Mayor Sam Adams was joined by representatives from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), TriMet, PBEM and PBOT Maintenance Operations to impress upon the region that now is the time to prepare for heavy rains and storms that may create hazardous travel conditions on streets and sidewalks this winter.

PBOT conducted its final exercise today in a series of annual winter preparedness trainings for snow and ice crews. Employees and equipment were mobilized, inspected and sent on a “dry run” of the City’s plow routes to ensure that winter snow and ice plans are understood and complete.

Although emergency managers are following National Weather Service forecasts indicating a potentially less active winter storm season this year, they urge everyone to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. “Models show that we are in El Niño conditions,” said Mayor Adams. “El Niño typically brings less precipitation, higher temperatures, and fewer storms than normal, but because winter weather in the Portland area can change quickly and without warning – which makes travel unpredictable – we all need to be prepared,” said Adams.

Whether Portland will get snow or ice on the valley floor is too early to call, but emergency managers urge everyone to get ready for it now. “People should familiarize themselves with PublicAlerts.org. It’s a one-stop resource for travel information, street closures, highway road conditions, and transit alerts in our region,” said David Blitzer, PBEM Operations Manager. “We ask families to create an emergency plan now that includes alternate methods for getting home during a snow and ice event,” said Blitzer.

ODOT advises the public to use TripCheck.com or dial 511 for real-time highway road and weather information before venturing out. Motorists should carry chains in their vehicles to be prepared for snow and ice. "We want drivers to be ready for winter," said Ted Miller, ODOT's Maintenance and Operations Manager. "Learn how to use your tire chains and carry them in your car. Now is a good time to check your tires and make sure your heater, defroster, lights and battery are all working.”

Mayor Adams recommends that Portlanders plan their route according to the City’s plow routes. “Of the city’s 4,700 miles of streets, 1,300 miles are arterials, and of those, approximately 518 miles are bus snow routes,” saidAdams. “In higher elevations especially, be cautious, carry chains and be prepared to use them if you choose to drive on steep streets and hills. We will ticket and tow your vehicle if you abandon it in the right of way,” saidAdams.

Residents are advised to commute by public transit in bad weather if possible. TriMet and PBOT work together to keep major transit routes open for buses, MAX and the Portland Streetcar. “The City has focused on keeping major arterials passable, which also keeps transit moving,” said TriMet Rail Operations Manager Don Allison. “It means riders have a safe transportation option during winter weather.” Service alerts are posted at TriMet.org or TriMet’s mobile site m.trimet.org for smart phones.

The City also asks residents and businesses to help lessen street flooding this fall and winter by cleaning the catch basins near their property and to help prevent landslides by making sure their property’s drainage system is working properly. “With leaves falling, now is the time to inspect the grated storm drains near your house or business,” said PBOT Maintenance Operations Manager Suzanne Kahn. “Using a rake or shovel, please remove the debris on top of the grate and dispose of the debris properly,” said Kahn. The public is advised to call 503-823-1700 if help is needed at a particular location. Catch basin care information is available online.

Visit PublicAlerts.org for more information and sign up for emergency notification. To receive alerts via Twitter, please follow @PublicAlerts.