(3:50 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016) The Portland Bureau of Transportation warns the traveling public to be prepared for severe winter weather that may create hazardous traveling conditions during the Wednesday evening rush hour.
The National Weather Service has advised the City of Portland to expect 1 inch to 2 inches of snow over a six-to-eight-hour period, starting around noon to 1 p.m. While neighborhoods at elevations above 500 feet often experience more snow and ice accumulation than the rest of Portland, forecasters say the snow accumulations could vary widely at low elevations across the metropolitan area. Some low-elevation sites may have more snow than high-elevation areas, because forecasters expect narrow bands of heavy snow to move across the region throughout the afternoon and early evening.
There is some uncertainty in the forecast. There is a 20 percent or less chance that the Portland area sees less than 1 inch or more than 3 inches of snow, the Weather Service says. The Wednesday afternoon forecast also could change by Wednesday morning.
Freezing rain is not expected, but freezing temperatures are expected through the weekend.
Also new as of Tuesday afternoon:
- NW Cornell Road is expected to remain closed through the upcoming storm and freezing conditions, staying closed potentially through the weekend. Trees remain in the landslide area, and heavy equipment creates risk for pedestrians who violate the work zone. The site still lacks electricity for street lights and lighting in the tunnel. Damage to power lines and telecommunication infrastructure needs to be repaired. No through traffic is allowed, and only local access is allowed on Cornell east of NW Thompson and west of NW Westover.
- PBOT dispatch received 687 phone calls and created 426 service requests, nearly all for downed trees, from 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 through 6 a.m. on Saturday Dec. 10, according to figures the bureau is releasing today.
Advice for the public:
Be prepared, expect conditions to vary
While the snow forecast may still be uncertain, 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
What's it like to drive a snow plow?
Drivers have limited visibility
We invited our friends from AAA Oregon/Idaho, AARP Oregon, and The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) to take our snowplows for a spin at our annual snowplow training event for PBOT crews in October.
Watch what they learned:
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.
PBOT last Thursday-Saturday storm response:
'By the numbers'
PBOT crews worked overtime during last week's snow and ice storms. PBOT crews worked mainly on storm response from 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 through 6 a.m. on Saturday Dec. 10. Crews set up trucks with plows, sanders and chains by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, in case the storm came early. Some staff also worked through the weekend and are still working to clear streets of tree debris.
For Thursday through Saturday, PBOT staff:
- Applied 22,000 gallons of anti-icer (MgCl) and 868 cubic yards of sand.
- Covered plow routes totaling 1,120 lane miles with a separate 260 lane miles of anti-icing. Each route was plowed or anti-iced many times by various trucks.
- Handled 687 phone calls and created 426 service requests, nearly all for downed trees. PBOT Dispatch at 503-823-1700 handles all after-hours and weekend calls for Portland Parks & Recreation's Urban Forestry Division.
- As of Monday, most of the 260 “tree down” locations still have debris in place and PBOT is coordinating with Parks to assist them in tree debris removal.
- Used at least $16,000 in materials. Labor costs are still being tallied.
- Work continues to clear the landslide on NW Cornell as quickly and safely as possible.
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.
You may be towed on West Burnside and Sam Jackson Parkway
PBOT sets up chain-up areas in the shoulder heading uphill on West Burnside and SW Sam Jackson Parkway. They are set aside as a safe place for people to attach snow chains during a storm. Parking is not allowed in these areas and vehicles abandoned there are subject to towing.
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.
PBOT is prepared, with crews working in tough conditions
PBOT crews applied 8,100 gallons of anti-icer on Monday night, and expect to apply more to try to prevent snow or ice accumulation. Leaf Day service will be provided as scheduled Wednesday morning, for as long as conditions allow. The city's fleet of more than 50 snow plows will be ready by noon. Parking enforcement officers will be in place to tow abandoned vehicles during the evening rush hour.
Plows are not able to move snow accumulations of 1 inch or less, so people who insist on driving should be prepared to drive on snow.
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. During snow storms, PBOT often requires chains or traction devices on West Burnside and SW Sam Jackson Parkway.