PORTLAND – Temperatures around the metro area hovered around freezing early Monday morning but little of the dreaded freezing rain that led to a Freezing Rain Advisory through noon today.
KGW meteorologist Nick Allard said to expect spots of freezing rain for the morning commute, then rain by noon throughout the region. Icy conditions will remain in the Gorge, he said.
On Sunday, area school districts began announcing closures for Monday and the mayor said that all city offices would have delayed openings.
The National Weather Service advisory warned that freezing rain may further coat road surfaces and create dangerous driving conditions, as well as risks for walkers. "Safety cannot be understated. Please do not go under trees. Tree limbs and even whole trees can fall with little notice and potentially kill you when coated with ice," it said.
It also warned of danger on high bridges and then just before 9:30 p.m., crews closed down the northbound I-405 ramp onto I-5 coming off the Fremont Bridge, due to ice.
People in the Columbia River Gorge have been facing an even bigger threat. While Portland did warm above freezing for a time Sunday, the gorge never did, leaving that area coated with ice. Chains are required for all big rigs headed east on I-84.
"I was driving 20 miles an hour with chains all the way from basically Colburn to Troutdale," said trucker Daniel Cundif. "It was just a really slow drive and then you've got these people just driving like idiots and wrecking."
A Freezing Rain Advisory for the central Columbia River Gorge and Upper Hood River Valley warned of possible freezing rain, sleet and snow through Monday night.
Monday's freezing rain will follow four days of difficult weather conditions in the gorge, as well as throughout the Portland and Vancouver Metro areas.
On Sunday morning, the city used the federal Emergency Wireless Alert system to put the word out to people on their mobile devices to stay home and avoid icy roads.
The ice even forced TriMet to shut down Saturday night. Then, they started back up on a limited schedule Sunday afternoon.
A slow warming trend on Sunday from the south working north developed, but temperatures in the metro area were still not warm up enough to melt many frozen roadways.
Portland General Electric also worked to restore power to many customers Sunday after the storm knocked out electricity in several neighborhoods.
In Oregon’s worst ice storms over the years, tens of thousands of residents lost power as lines were downed and transformers blew up across the metro area and central Willamette Valley.
On Saturday, city commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick were joined by TriMet’s Mary Fetsch in an afternoon press conference. They warned residents to stay home rather than try to drive in the dicey conditions. Both Vancouver and Beaverton officials also urged its residents to stay inside and use caution when driving after freezing rain pounded the region.
Oregon State Police reported 600 weather-related crashes in the state since the first wave of snow moved in Thursday. Most of the injuries were minor, but one woman was killed Friday afternoon on Interstate 84 near Rooster Rock. She was a passenger when the driver lost control and smashed into a tree.
Gas stations in Portland were reportedly running out of gas as semi-trucks were unable to make it through the snow.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has been out putting de-icer down across the state as plows moved through the metro area.
Many drivers on Portland-area highways and interstates abandoned their vehicles after they couldn't drive in Thursday's snowstorm. On Friday, they scrambled to recover their vehicles before the next wave of snow hit.