The National Weather Service says more than 10 inches of snow have officially fallen in Portland since Wednesday afternoon, making it the second-snowiest day ever recorded in the city. Some areas saw more than a foot of snow.
Snow also blanketed the Willamette Valley and Southwest Washington, bringing traffic to a stop during the Wednesday night commute throughout much of the region. On Thursday morning, transportation officials recommended staying home if possible. If you must head out, expect ice, snow, and downed trees in many areas.
On the Oregon coast and in the Coast Range, downed trees closed several roads Thursday, including U.S. 101 north of Neskowin, from milepost 96 to 105; U.S. 20, from milepost 10 to 20; and Oregon 34, between milepost 5 and 28.
And in Newport, snow postponed the city’s seafood and wine festival.
”It’s been very successful. Each year it keeps getting bigger,” said Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer. “About 20,000 people a year come here for this weekend.”
The event, which has occurred for more than 40 years, will kick off tomorrow at noon and run through Sunday, according to organizers. Sawyer added that visitors should check road conditions before coming to town.
Schools are closed for the day throughout northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, along with many city, county and state offices. And dozens of flight into and out of PDX have been canceled.
The snow is expected to stick around until the weekend in the Portland metro area as temperatures are not expected to get above freezing Thursday — in fact, a wind chill advisory for temps down to zero is in effect until noon Friday.
Rain is expected to return Sunday, with temperatures mostly staying above freezing for next week.
On Wednesday night, commuters across the Portland metro area reported stop-and-go traffic as snow began to build up after falling and melting away in some areas for much of the day.
The Oregon Department of Transportation showed most main arterials through Portland jammed up, including I-5, I-205, I-84, US-26 and US-30.
A couple of trucks are having some trouble at the I-5/84 interchange. A couple of other cars have been abandoned here as well. 5:46 PM #LiveOnK2 pic.twitter.com/AoQo1oyssh— Corry Young (@photocorry) February 23, 2023
ODOT warned drivers to stay home, but to plan on delays and hazardous road conditions throughout Wednesday night and possibly into Thursday morning if they must travel. Forecasters said areas above 500 feet in the Portland metro area could see up to 2 inches of additional snow.
For anyone who must travel, officials advise bringing warm clothing, food and water in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions are available through tripcheck.com. The Portland Bureau of Transportation also offers an interactive map showing where city snow plows are working, and if any city roads are closed. People using public transportation can check on their bus or train schedule up to the minute through TriMet and C-Tran.
By 6 p.m. Wednesday, dropping temperatures had made some roads icy and closures quickly swept the region. Stalled trucks on the I-84 interchange with I-5 closed westbound lanes entirely. Gresham police also warned drivers that icy roads in east Multnomah County were likely there to stay overnight.
Officials with the Beaverton School District say one bus, dropping off students in the Cedar Mill area got stuck and was unable to get chains on. Students were picked up by parents or guardians, but the bus was left behind to be dealt with the following day.
Two school buses in the Gresham-Barlow School District got stuck taking students home, but according to a district spokesperson, transportation services staff responded quickly and were able to get children home “with little delay.” Gresham-Barlow closed early, and officials made the decision Wednesday evening to close school Thursday.
SNOWY STREETS ALERT: Roads in Gresham and east @MultCoSO are very hazardous, & not likely to change tonight. Officers are on multiple crashes and spun out cars which makes it tough to respond to 911 calls. If you don’t have to leave where you are at right now, please stay there! pic.twitter.com/Zx87oBuwVe— Gresham Police Dept. (@GreshamPD) February 23, 2023
Officials in the Reynolds and West Linn-Wilsonville school districts said all bus-riding students in those districts made it home safely.
A spokesperson for the North Clackamas School District said all students in that district made it home, as well.
“While the weather forced some buses in our Happy Valley attendance area to either cancel or alter routes, we were able to communicate with families promptly and arrange alternate transportation for affected students,” said North Clackamas communications director Seth Gordon, in an email to OPB.
Gordon said some parents had to pick up students who normally ride the bus, and in other cases, the district sent “alternative vehicles” to get kids home. In addition, he said a “handful” of high school students had to be “redirected” to a middle school to be picked up. Ultimately, all students were safely with their families just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to Gordon.
Attempts to reach Portland Public Schools officials were unanswered.
Related: The latest on closures in the Portland area
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning or winter storm advisory for much of western Oregon and southwest Washington, as well as parts of eastern Oregon near Pendleton through early Thursday. Up to a foot of snow could fall in areas above 2,000 feet of elevation.
Wind chill warnings stretch from the north Willamette Valley to the Gorge. Temperatures could drop to single-digits in the Portland metro area and well below zero in the foothills Thursday and Friday.
This story may be updated.