Portland snowfall snarls evening commute, creating widespread slowdowns

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PORTLAND, Ore. — As the evening commute got underway throughout the Portland metro area Wednesday evening, a day’s worth of snow showers and wet snow on the ground contributed to delays and gridlock on nearly every route through the city.

From Vancouver south nearly to Tigard, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s TripCheck map was a mass of red and orange lines showing slowdowns, particularly along I-5, I-205, I-84, 82nd Avenue and Highway 26, and especially within Portland city limits.

Within the space of about an hour, ODOT put out a flurry of alerts about reported crashes and stalled or disabled vehicles on all of the local interstates.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation said in a statement that there had been more snow Wednesday, more widespread than anticipated.

“The traveling public should delay travel, plan to use public transit and use extreme caution as additional snow and freezing temperatures are expected,” the agency said in a statement.

RELATED: Live map: Here’s where Portland’s snow plows are right now

Portland got about 2 inches of west snow, at least in some areas, and the city said that the National Weather Service had advised them of a 40% to 70% chance of 2 more inches overnight, amid temperatures below freezing.

KGW crews saw plenty of cars spinning their wheels on West Burnside near Providence Park. Signs posted recommended chains or traction devices for anyone driving up West Burnside headed towards the West Hills. 

Multnomah County closed Northeast 238th Drive from Southwest Cherry Park Road to Northeast Glisan Street due to icy conditions. Buxton Road was also closed, along with Southwest 257th from the Historic Columbia River Highway to Southwest Cherry Park Road.

County officials advised that people avoid NW Germantown Road, NW Newberry Road and Rocky Point Road, but there were no closures in that area as of 5 p.m.

“Right now east Multnomah County roads are more of an issue than the county’s west side roads,” officials said in a statement. “Any county roads that are exposed to the cold gorge air overnight will be more susceptible to ice.”

Multnomah County Transportation said it has 24-hour road coverage for this storm event, with crews are plowing and putting down sand “where it’s necessary.” 

Roads staff warned it could be a dangerous morning commute after a coming overnight freeze. Areas east of I-205 were expected to see the most overnight snow, along with taking the brunt of cold east winds.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.



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