Heavy wind and rain tapered off in the Portland metro area Wednesday morning, but they’ve already caused widespread power outages and traffic issues.
U.S. 26 has reopened after downed power lines were cleared from the roadway between the Sylvan overpass and the Vista Ridge Tunnel. U.S. 30 is closed about halfway between Astoria and Clatskanie, due to a landslide. Traffic officials Wednesday morning had no estimate for when that highway would reopen.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, about 9,000 people were without power in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
In the Columbia River Gorge and the Upper Hood River Valley, a winter storm wrapped up Wednesday morning. But forecaster Clinton Rockey, with the National Weather Service, said the area saw between 6 and 15 inches of snow, depending on elevation. Several school districts closed for the day due to snow and ice, including:
- Hood River County
- White Salmon
And several other school districts in the area are starting late.
Rockey says two more strong weather systems will move through Oregon and Washington over the next few days.
While lower elevations will see very limited snow showers, Rockey says people traveling through the Gorge, the Cascade Passes and the Coast Range should prepare for snow sticking around on roadways through at least Sunday. Drivers should also expect hazardous travel conditions in Eastern Oregon.
Starting Wednesday night, heavy showers will move through Northwest Oregon again, and some places will see those showers in the form of snowflakes.
“Especially in the Coast Range, out in the western Metro and then probably up into Clark County and northward,” Rockey said. “I don’t think we’re going to see sticking snow for most places down low. That said, if you have any kind of elevation across the metro, like in the West Hills, Mount Scott on the eastern side of the city, or on the west side of the city, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some snow sticking, especially in the hill country.”
A similar system will move through Thursday night into Friday morning.
“Yet another chance for snow to fall out of those showers all the way down the valley floor. That might be a little better chance for the snow to survive,” Rockey said. “The problem is, there’s not going to be a whole lot of moisture around. So again, it’s a very hit-and-miss who’s gonna get what, If you get any at all.”
Friday afternoon and evening should be rainy and blustery, with heavy wind gusts especially along the Coast Range. Then another cold weather system will move through Friday night and Saturday morning, dropping several more inches along the Gorge and in the Cascades, where it could stick around for several days.
Lower elevations won’t see much snow from that system, Rockey said. And then things should start drying out on Sunday.
He said pinpointing exactly where snow will fall over the next few days is tough.
“If you’re up high enough ... you’re gonna see maybe a half-inch to an inch or 2 of snow in the next day or two, and it’s just a matter of who’s going to be lucky enough to get to those showers,” he said
But anybody planning to drive, especially at higher elevations, should prepare for winter conditions. Even if there’s no snow, moisture on the roads can freeze in the early morning hours.
Rockey said this won’t be at all like the “snowmageddon”-type events that hit the region later in the winter season, because the ground hasn’t had time yet for a hard freeze. Any snow that falls in lower elevations will soon be replaced with rain.
And the whole thing will be great news for skiers and snowboarders; by the time all is said and done on Sunday, up to 4 feet of new snow will have fallen in the Cascades.