PORTLAND – Temperatures around the Portland and Vancouver metro areas continue to hover around freezing, leaving patches of ice that were catching some drivers by surprise Monday.
KGW meteorologist Nick Allard said to expect spots of freezing rain to transition into regular rain Monday afternoon throughout the region.
"If the roads look wet, it may be ice. So be careful out there," said Don Hamilton with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Traffic: Alert updates
Side streets had the most slick spots but the city was working to get main thoroughfares cleared with plows. Crews were also spreading deicer and gravel and clearing storm drains.
Freezing rain in the gorge
People in the Columbia River Gorge have been facing an even bigger threat. While Portland did warm above freezing, the gorge has not, leaving that area coated with ice.
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.
Chains were 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."
Monday's freezing rain follows four days of difficult weather conditions in the gorge, as well as throughout the Portland and Vancouver metro areas.
Most area school districts in the metro area announced closures and delays as a precaution. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said that all city offices would have delayed openings and the state office located in Portland was closed.
Portland General Electric also worked to restore power to many customers Sunday after the storm knocked out electricity in several neighborhoods.
Icy roads on Sunday
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 MAX lines 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 enough to melt many frozen roadways.
In one of 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.
Ice & snow on Saturday
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. Vancouver and Beaverton officials also urged their 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.
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.