Winter weather in the Portland Metropolitan region can change quickly and without warning, making travel unpredictable. The intensity of a single snow and ice storm can vary significantly throughout the region because of the area's unique weather patterns and geography. The time of day the snow strikes also will influence winter travel.
Portland averages at least one significant snowfall annually. The next time it happens, be ready. Every resident and business should be prepared for the worst possible conditions to provide for your safety. Essential equipment includes chains, snow shovel, and sand or de-icing granules.
Delay your trip until conditions are better
- 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.
- Plan to commute by public transit in bad weather. Information about bus and MAX light rail is available online from TriMet or by calling 503-238-RIDE. TriMet advises riders to expect 20 to 30-minute bus delays, so plan accordingly, dress warmly, and be cautious crossing the street to your stop.
Check weather and street conditions
- If you must travel, give yourself extra time and check weather and traffic reports before you go. Check PublicAlerts for breaking news and information on major service disruptions. Public Alerts will provide links to ODOT's TripCheck for highway road conditions. Remember, freeways, major arterials, and bus routes are your best bets for winter travel.
Prepare your home and family
- Develop an emergency plan with your family that includes an alternate way home. Identify where each member should go if getting home is not possible because of snow conditions. Make sure there are provisions, food, and blankets at your contingency location.
- Familiarize yourself with school, daycare, and employer snow policies. See the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM)'s website for additional information on winter weather preparation.
Chains - your link to safety!
- Buy chains, dry fit them, carry them in your vehicle, and use them. When ODOT issues a requirement to use chains on all State roads, remember that several highways run through Portland: 82nd Avenue, Powell Boulevard, Lombard Street, Barbur Boulevard, Sandy Boulevard (outer east side), McLoughlin Boulevard and Macadam Avenue.
- 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 cellular phone or CB Radio.
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.
- Any vehicle creating a safety hazard is subject to towing. If you are driving and visibility and conditions are getting worse rapidly, do not stop in a travel lane. 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.
In the aftermath
- As soon as possible, clear your catch basins, sidewalks, and driveways across pedestrian paths of snow and ice, slippery leaves, and debris. Remove icicles hanging over doorways and walkways. By City Code, property owners are responsible for removing snow, ice, and other debris on sidewalks and driveways adjacent to their property.
- As the snow plowing operation proceeds, a snow berm develops. It is impossible to plow without leaving a berm. Individual property owners are responsible for clearing away the snow berm from driveways and entrances. Pile shoveled snow where it can be absorbed into the ground, not on the street and public right of way. Businesses hiring contractors to remove snow from lots should store the snow on your property, not dump it on the street.