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Portland's Winter Weather Causing Road Closures and Treacherous Driving Conditions

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Feb 18, 2021 in Auto Accident

fallen tree limbs on snow-covered street

On day six since last week’s series of snow and ice storms in and around Portland, many hazards are still impacting the area. In addition to the icy roads and downed trees and power lines, there have been widespread power outages throughout multiple counties.

On Saturday, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for nine Willamette Valley counties – including the entire Portland Metro area:

  • Benton
  • Clackamas
  • Hood River
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Multnomah
  • Polk
  • Washington
  • Yamhill

Dangers on the Road

Even though today’s somewhat warmer weather is thawing some of the snow and ice that pelted the region, officials are still recommending drivers stay off the roads if possible. There are a lot of areas that are slick and likely to refreeze overnight. In addition to the probability of black ice patches, there are also multiple downed tree limbs and power lines blocking many roadways.

Downed Power Lines

All downed power lines are potentially live and should be considered extremely dangerous. According to an Oregon Live news report, there are nearly 8,500 downed wires. If you see one, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) warns not to try to drive under or around them. Vehicles and pedestrians should keep well away from any downed wires or power lines and notify the local power provider immediately.

These utility numbers for reporting downed lines are provided by Oregon OEM:

  • PGE: 800-544-1795
  • Pacific Power: 1-877-508-5088
  • Hood River Electric: 541-354-1233
  • Salem Electric: 503-362-3601
  • West Oregon Electric: 503-429-3021

Power Outages

The number of power outages from this latest series of winter storms is the worst experienced in the last 40 years. Hundreds of thousands of customers in multiple counties are without power – many since last Thursday.

To get an immediate update of the outages in your area, check from your mobile phone:

  • Portland General Electric (PGE) – Report a power outage or check back for updates here. PGE reports that they have already restored power to more than 422,000 customers. PGE continues to work around the clock to restore power and complete repairs for the remaining areas still affected.
  • Pacific Power – Over 6,000 customers continue to be impacted by 442 outages. Pacific Power utility crews are also working around the clock to restore power to customers. Check the restoration status map for more information on your area.
  • Clark Public Utilities – If you are a Clark Public Utilities customer and suffer an outage, you can use this link to report it from your cellphone.

Carbon Monoxide Warnings

Medical director of the Oregon Poison Center, Ron Hendrickson, said the center received 19 carbon monoxide poisoning calls this past weekend alone. They normally do not receive more than one over a weekend. This increase is likely due to the continued power outages and people looking for other ways to keep warm.

However, Hendrickson cautions residents not to use generators, grills or other outdoor heat sources inside their homes. They may still be used outdoors, but should be kept well away from any windows, doors or air ventilation systems.

Road Closures

While many roads are on their way to thawing out, there is still a considerable amount of slush and ice causing narrower vehicle paths to drive through.

Early Tuesday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) reported as many as 50 road closures. Initially, even major roadways were shut down due to the ice storm. I-84 was also closed from Interstate 5 to Interstate 205 in Portland to allow PGE to manage and repair power lines to keep them falling onto the interstate.

Check out PBOT’s updated list of road closures for roads that remain closed today. While many areas previously closed due to snow and ice have been cleared, there are a few that still remain closed due to downed tree and power lines. PBOT warns vehicles not to attempt to drive around or through any street closures, as there are crews continuing to work to clear these areas.

Rizk Law is Here to Provide Legal Help

As always, our firm is dedicated to helping the community. If you suffer an injury caused by another’s reckless or negligent actions, our Portland-based car accident attorneys are prepared to help.

Contact our firm for a free consultation to learn more, including if you may have a case. 

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