Clear storm drains in advance of heavy rain; all travelers should use caution
(Oct. 13, 2016) The Portland Bureau of Transportation warns the traveling public to be prepared for high winds and heavy rain that could create hazardous traveling conditions tonight and Saturday. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for the Portland area from 2 to 10 p.m., with the strongest winds from 4 to 9 p.m.
Wind speeds are expected to reach 15 to 30 mph, with gusts of 35 to 45 mph. Winds of this strength could make travel hazardous by bringing fallen trees, tree limbs, and power lines into streets. Debris can also block storm drains, leading to street flooding.
PBOT asks the traveling public, residents and businesses to take steps to reduce hazards associated with these conditions. The best way to prevent streets from flooding is for everyone to help keep Portland's 58,000 storm drains clear before a storm arrives. Use a rake, shovel or broom and clear by standing in the sidewalk, not the street. Be aware of passing vehicles and check the drain again during and after a storm. It's also a good idea to clear inlets that lead stormwater to the green street planters in city streets. See more tips at http://bit.ly/pdxstormdrains
All travelers should be alert, regardless of how they are moving throughout the city:
- When driving, go slowly. Use extra care and look for people walking or biking. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. If a storm knocks out power to traffic signals, treat intersections like an all-way stop and proceed with caution. The driver who stops first has the right of way to go first.
- Do not drive through standing water or around barricades on flooded streets. Turn around safely. The wake from your vehicle can cause public and private property damage and flood houses and businesses.
- When biking, allow plenty of stopping distance and avoid road surfaces that are steel, painted or covered in leaves or water. A puddles can disguise a very deep pothole.
- When walking, always cross at a marked crosswalk or at an intersection. Look for oncoming vehicles before stepping down from the sidewalk and make eye contact with drivers when possible. Remember that people driving may have difficulty stopping in rainy conditions. Make sure you are seen by wearing contrasting clothing or retro-reflective materials when it’s dark outside.
- When taking public transit, check for service alerts before you go at trimet.org/alerts and portlandstreetcar.org
See more travel tips on PBOT's web site: http://bit.ly/rainytravel
PBOT crews are prepared to close streets and may set up detour routes for closures of long duration.
Residents are advised to notify PBOT of debris, mud, rocks, trees, or branches blocking a street by calling our 24/7 maintenance dispatch hotline at 503-823-1700. Property owners should keep sidewalks clear of small debris.
During a severe weather event, many people may report the same incident. Residents may find it more convenient to report using the PDX Reporter App on Apple and Android smartphones. To report standing water on a roadway, use the category Plugged Storm Drain/Inlet. To report rock or mudslides or other debris blocking a travel lane, use the Debris in Roadway category. We strongly encourage the public to submit photos with their service requests, because that helps PBOT crews assess changing conditions as they respond to reports.
The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) will continue to monitor the Sycamore gauge for Johnson Creek water levels. See the gauge at http://bit.ly/2ewbCdK. Bank full is 10 feet; flood stage is 11 feet; and with the restoration work that BES has done in the Foster Floodplain Natural Area, it now takes about 13 feet for Johnson Creek to flood.
The last observed level was about 2.79 feet (11:30 a.m. on Oct. 13), and it is predicted to reach 4.55 feet at midnight tonight and 9.22 feet by 6 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14. So, there is a possibility that Johnson Creek may approach bank full by early Friday morning, but it is not expected to flood.
To help residents and business owners prepare for a flood emergency, sand and sandbags are available at no charge to anyone who wants to use them to protect their property from flood damage. City crews keep the sites stocked with sand and sand bags. No shovels are provided, so the public must bring their own. Locations are:
- SE 88th Avenue just south of Holgate Boulevard in the parking lot at Lents Park. Enter parking lot at the bottom of the hill, and follow one-way traffic to the sand pile at the exit on the east side of SE 88th;
- SE 111th Avenue and Harold Street at the southeast corner of the intersection; and
- SW 42nd Avenue and Vermont Street in the lower parking lot of Gabriel Park; enter Gabriel Park from Vermont.
If travelers encounter downed utility wires or power lines in the Portland area, they should call 911. Never touch a downed power line. In fact, do not even get close. Even if a power line is not sparking, it could still be energized. Remember that water and electricity do not mix. Never try to free lines or to remove tree limbs from lines by yourself.
In addition, to report power outages or downed lines, contact PGE at 503-464-7777 or Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088. To report traffic signals out, call PBOT's 24/7 dispatch hotline at 503-823-1700.
The City recommends Portlanders monitor conditions where they are planning to travel, watch the forecast, and use www.PublicAlerts.org as their source for emergency updates. The site provides links to street closures, highway road conditions, transit schedules and service alerts, and other emergency information.
PBOT's Get Home Safe campaign informs the public about what the Transportation Bureau does to help Portlanders travel safely during severe fall and winter weather and what Portlanders can do to prepare for travel during severe weather.