Winter storm warning in effect until Monday throughout Northwest; more snow, freezing rain expected

By Staff (OPB) and Staff (AP)
Portland, Ore. Feb. 11, 2021 1:30 p.m. Updated: Feb. 13, 2021 11:15 p.m.

A series of Pacific storms will bring freezing rain, sleet and snow to parts of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington through the weekend.


A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 a.m. Monday throughout parts of the Pacific Northwest. An additional 2-8 inches of snow could still fall with the snow switching to freezing rain Sunday night. Ice accumulations, of one-quarter to one-half of an inch, are possible, particularly in the western Columbia River Gorge.

Across the country, more than 100 million Americans were under some sort of winter weather advisory on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow has already blanketed much of Oregon and Washington.

Portland metro area

As of Saturday afternoon, up to 10 inches of snow covered areas of Portland. In addition to the snowfall amounts, three-quarters of an inch of ice accumulation and gusty winds caused widespread power outages across Oregon, according to the Weather Channel.

Portlanders got the dusting of snow they were promised Thursday. The NWS announced 1 inch of snowfall at its Portland office as of early Friday morning. Accumulation totals vary across the region.

Heading into the weekend, the NWS is forecasting more snow after 7 p.m. Friday in the Portland area, with temperatures falling to around 27 degrees by 9 a.m Friday morning. More snow is predicted for Friday evening and into Saturday, with around 3-to-6 inches possible by Friday evening and 1-to-3 inches possible during the day on Saturday.

High winds are also expected, with an east wind around 25 mph, and gusts as high as 39 mph.

Related: The snow isn’t expected to be a soft silent blanket. Wind is in the forecast.

The Willamette Valley

A surprise precipitation band formed overnight Thursday in much of Marion, Clackamas, Multnomah and western Washington counties, with ice accumulation of up to 0.2 inches in areas above 250 feet. The NWS forecasts the precipitation will slow through Friday as the current storm exits the region and a new one moves in on Friday night. They also caution of the chance of serious power outages Friday night and into Saturday.

The coast

Temperatures Friday morning are well below freezing along the Oregon and Washington coasts, especially in the higher elevations of the Coast Range. The NWS forecasts freezing rain Friday in some parts of the northern half of the Oregon Coast Range and the southern half of the Washington Coast Range. As a new storm moves into the region Friday evening, the NWS is forecasting up to an additional half-inch in ice accumulation into Saturday.

Central and Eastern Oregon

A stretch running from south-central Washington through Eastern and Central Oregon, running through The Dalles to south of Bend, are also under a winter storm warning. Hazardous conditions could affect travel on Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 97 in that region, and weather officials are urging people to bring an extra flashlight, food and water if they choose to travel.

The National Weather Service in Pendleton’s forecast for the Central Oregon region calls for up to a half an inch of more snow Friday morning, tapering off around 11 a.m. With highs around 26 degrees, the region is unlikely to see melting anytime soon.

These resources offer helpful services and advice during winter weather events:

Food delivery driver Nalik Jackson of Portland struggles to put on snow chains in Beaverton. This was Jackson's first time putting chains on a car so he consulted YouTube to learn how.

Food delivery driver Nalik Jackson of Portland struggles to put on snow chains in Beaverton. This was Jackson's first time putting chains on a car so he consulted YouTube to learn how.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB


Watch this story for continued updates about closures and other weather news.

OHSU cancels Portland weekend vaccine clinics ahead of expected snow

An Oregon hospital system has canceled vaccine clinics for Saturday and Sunday because of a major winter snowstorm expected to hit the Portland area.

Oregon Health & Science University said Wednesday that it was closing its vaccine clinics for safety over forecasted snow and freezing temperatures. The city will likely get roughly 2 inches of snowfall from Thursday to Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Three sites will be closed, including Hillsboro Stadium.

OHSU said it is rescheduling appointments, including for “a large contingent of patients 80 and older.”

A person walks to their car in the Mountain View neighborhood of Bend, Ore., Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, after a day's snowfall.

A person walks to their car in the Mountain View neighborhood of Bend, Ore., Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, after a day's snowfall.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

Schools and child-care providers ponder snow days in the era of distance learning

Remember the good old days, when snow in the forecast often meant a snow day and outdoor play with friends?

For students, a simple forecast of snow used to mean excited anticipation of a snow day, a day spent playing outdoors or watching the weather from inside — far away from class. In the era of distance learning, that’s not necessarily the case.

Portland Public Schools has announced that delivering instruction online means inclement weather doesn’t have to interrupt instruction. “Student and staff safety is always our highest priority; distance learning means potentially dangerous winter travel to and from school campuses is not necessary,” according to a statement from the district. Inclement weather may interrupt some campus-based activities like meal delivery, limited in-person instruction, and school-based child care.

By Wednesday afternoon, school leaders across the greater Portland metro area hadn’t announced decisions on whether to close school in-person programming on Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, many child-care providers, which are by definition in-person only, expressed concerns about staff being able to get to and from work.

Related: Wintry forecast raises questions about snow days, child care in the era of distance learning

Cold weather, snow add to challenges for houseless

Downtown Portland in a dusting of snow, Feb. 12, 2021.

Downtown Portland in a dusting of snow, Feb. 12, 2021.

Conrad Wilson / OPB

Groups that provide services to people experiencing homelessness say the coming nights could be especially challenging. In the Portland area, some are actively soliciting donations of cold-weather gear, such as hats, gloves, blankets, tarps and sleeping bags. With snow in the forecast and temperatures expected to dip far below freezing, it’s likely Portland’s Joint Office of Homeless Services will open severe weather warming shelters.

The shelters come online if forecasters predict an inch or more of snow or the weather falls below 25 degrees. On nights where severe weather is declared, the office plans to open up 290 beds located at three facilities: Oregon Convention Center, Irving Street Garage, and Arbor Lodge Severe Weather Shelter. You can find the latest info here.

Already this week, the cold has contributed to one death. A 27-year-old died from severe burn injuries Tuesday after a fire engulfed their makeshift shelter set up beneath an overpass in North Portland. Portland Fire & Rescue did not release their name. Officials said the fire started from a propane-fed device the deceased had used to heat the space on a night where temperatures dipped to one degree above freezing.

Information about warm places to shelter across Oregon on cold days can be found at: https://www.211info.org/em-shelters

Related: A 27-year-old died from severe burn injuries in Portland after makeshift shelter fire

This is a developing story. Watch for updates.


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