(Friday, Jan. 6, 2017) The Portland Bureau of Transportation warns the traveling public to be prepared for severe winter weather that may create hazardous traveling conditions Saturday and Sunday, potentially also affecting the Monday morning commute.
The National Weather Service has advised the City of Portland to expect 1 inch to 2 inches of snow on Saturday, following by freezing rain that could produce .25 to .6 inches of ice.
Freezing rain is snow that melts into water and freezes upon contact with the ground, causing a glaze of ice. This is the worst type of precipitation to drive in since ice offers almost no traction at all. Freezing rain on bare pavement creates an ice rink on the roadway.
"Everyone in Portland should prepare today for winter weather to ensure their safety," Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman said. "We encourage everyone to pay close attention to the weather forecast, understanding that conditions can change quickly and vary from place to place within Portland. Delay your travel to avoid the worst conditions and take public transit if you must travel."
While neighborhoods at elevations at 500 feet above sea level often experience more snow and ice accumulation than the rest of Portland, forecasters say the snow accumulations for this storm could vary widely at low elevations across the metropolitan area. Some low-elevation sites may in fact have more snow than high-elevation areas.
PBOT announces police enforcement of traction devices requirement for West Burnside Street, Sam Jackson Park Road
- For the first time, PBOT will implement a traction devices requirement on two key snow routes where the city has found dozens of abandoned vehicles during past snow and ice storms.
- Motorists will be required to have chains or other traction devices in order to drive on West Burnside starting at NW 23rd Avenue and Sam Jackson Park Road starting at SW Terwilliger Blvd. The requirement will be enforced by the Portland Police Bureau and the OHSU Police.
- People driving will be required to show they have traction tires on their vehicles. An area where they can apply snow chains will be provided.
- Traction tires are studded tires, retractable studded tires or other tires that meet the tire industry definition as suitable for use in severe snow conditions.
- The requirement will go into effect when conditions warrant. Electronic message signs will alert drivers at that time.
- OHSU will remain open. The Portland Aerial Tram is expected to extend its hours in snow or icy conditions, operating on Saturday night until midnight.
- Drivers who ignore this requirement will be subject to a citation by Portland Police in the amount of $160. If drivers abandon their cars in travel lanes, they could be subject to additional fines and costs.
Click here to watch a Facebook video of Friday's news conference with Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman and regional transportation and utility officials. Photos are also available.
Advice for the public:
Be prepared, expect conditions to vary
While the snow and ice amounts may vary, it never hurts to be prepared!
The best advice for traveling in bad winter weather is not to travel at all if you can avoid it. Wait until conditions improve before venturing out in winter weather. Allow the snow plows, sanding trucks, and other emergency vehicles to get out ahead of you to treat conditions. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
The City of Portland’s Snow and Ice Plan discourages private vehicle use and encourages public transit use instead. Plan ahead for your public transit commute by calling 503-238-RIDE (7433), visiting TriMet.org for bus and MAX light rail schedules and alerts or PortlandStreetcar.org for streetcar schedules and alerts. In snow and ice, plan for bus delays of 20 to 30 minutes. Know where your transit stops are before venturing out.PBOT provides tips for winter travel for people walking, biking or driving. Learn more at: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/47307
Winter travel safety tips
Carry an emergency weather kit
Have a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle to keep you safe and more comfortable during long waits. Your kit should include chains, shovel, bag of sand, battery jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife), blanket, extra clothing (hats, socks, boots, mittens), flashlight, and a cell phone or CB Radio.
Expect slippery sidewalks; clear your own as well
In a winter storm, the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house may be the slickest surface you encounter. PBOT applies anti-icer and uses snow plows to clear streets along bus routes, but property owners are responsible for ensuring safe passage on sidewalks.
Look out for people on bike or out walking
Be watchful for pedestrians and bicyclists who are also trying to get around in hazardous, low visibility conditions. Share the Road safely and responsibly.
You are responsible for your vehicle
If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044. If you are driving and visibility and conditions are getting worse rapidly, do not stop in a travel lane. Any vehicle creating a safety hazard is subject to towing. The citation for "preventing free passage" is $80 and the current contractual cost of a tow is $168, so motorists can expect to pay at least $248. The cost to store a towed vehicle past the initial four hours is $25 per day.
Look for an opportunity to pull off the road into a safe parking area and wait for conditions to improve. If you cannot reach your home, move your vehicle off a major street or plow route onto a side street so that plows can completely open up major streets. If you become stuck or stranded in severe weather, stay with your vehicle for warmth and safety until help arrives. While you wait for help to arrive, open a window slightly for ventilation, run your motor sparingly, and use your emergency flashers.
Recover your vehicle as soon as possible
Parking regulations and other road safety regulations remain enforceable during a winter storm. If you leave your vehicle parked in a metered parking space or other time zone during a winter storm, recover your vehicle as soon as possible when conditions improve. If you receive a citation, follow the instructions on the back of it to resolve it or contest it with the County Circuit Court.
Chains - your link to safety!
Buy chains, practice putting them on your car, carry them in your vehicle, and use them. You may need them unexpectedly!
Do not bike, walk or drive in front of a snow plow. Do not pass snow plows or sanding trucks, which are focused on the city's busiest streets. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation