PORTLAND, Ore. -- Gradually warming temperatures and a break in precipitation helped travel conditions return to near normal Wednesday, the morning after a commuting nightmare caused by Tuesday's sudden snow storm.
Roads had thawed by noon and the morning commute was uneventful after a long night of frustrated waiting for the unlucky multitudes stuck in the snow. ODOT estimated as many as 1,000 vehicles had been abandoned overnight on the interstates and suburban arterials flowing out of Portland.
Oregon State Police said there were 198 crashes reported in the northern part of the state, in Southern Oregon 93 wrecks were reported. There were no deaths involved, police said.
Tow trucks were out hauling off unclaimed vehicles that posed a danger. ODOT said direct all Dude, Where's My Car? reports to a central phone number, (503) 283-5859. Black ice was a concern at higher elevations earlier in the day but most of Portland was above freezing by 11 a.m., KGW Meteorologist Nick Allard said. Forecast
Another system heading into the area could make it a wet New Year, Allard added.
TriMet had chained up a fleet of 50 buses that would be used on as-needed basis and nine lines were running snow routes. Two bus lines were canceled Wednesday until the county gave an all clear. MAX trains were operating on a regular schedule.
Portland was open for business, too, with city offices and bureaus opening for regular hours, according to spokesperson Warren Jimenez.
Various schools south and east of Portland were canceling classes Wednesday.
The surprise snow accumulations stranded many commuters in interminable traffic jams. Long delays were reported on I-84, I-5, Hwy 26, 217, and Hwy 99 late into the evening. Buses were also delayed and three lines canceled until TriMet could chain up its fleet.
The flurries were caused by a Pacific weather system that moved into the Willamette Valley and mixed with sub-freezing air funneled in from the Columbia River Gorge, which had cooled temperatures from The Dalles to NW Portland. Slick roads were blamed for several collisions across Clark County as well.
Vancouver didn't get off easy but roadways were nowhere nearly as clogged across the river. Gorge communities saw even more snow, with as much as 7 inches of snow reported in areas of Hood River.
Many of those who didn't have to drive got outside to enjoy the sudden snow storm, which coincided with winter break for local schools.