Portland, Multnomah County leaders keep shelters open and seek volunteers as freeze continues

By Jeff Thompson (OPB)
Feb. 24, 2023 8:25 p.m. Updated: Feb. 25, 2023 1 a.m.

Temperatures could stay below freezing until Sunday.

Portland and Multnomah County officials are keeping emergency warming shelters open through at least Saturday morning as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing in the metro area.

They’re also asking for volunteers to help staff some of the shelters, as they’ve been near capacity following the historic snowstorm that hit the area on Wednesday. More than 650 people used emergency shelter beds in Portland Thursday night and Friday morning. Volunteers can sign up for shifts and training here.


Related: New forecast Saturday morning: Forecasters expect a bit more snow through the weekend

Officials made the decision to keep the shelters open as a wind chill advisory was still in effect for the metro area, bringing temperatures down to freezing in some spots.

The city and county have declared weather emergencies through at least Sunday. But Mayor Ted Wheeler said Friday morning that the emergency “may be far from over.” The county medical examiner has reported one death likely caused by the weather.

Weather forecasters are not expecting temperatures to get up above freezing until Sunday.

And Scott Weishaar with the National Weather Service says there’s a chance a few more inches of snow may fall over Portland starting Saturday night.

“Whatever falls overnight into Sunday morning will be more than likely in the form of snow,” he said. “The Portland area in general could see anywhere from another trace or half-inch, to maybe up to 3 or 4 inches.”

He said, unlike the cold weather front that stalled and set Portland up for Wednesday’s snow, this system is moving fast and should push through quickly.


“It’ll be in and out of here by Sunday afternoon,” he said. He added that this weather system will likely be in the form of rain, rather than snow, along the coast.

Temperatures should get into the mid-40s on Sunday afternoon. But Weishaar said there is another chance that snow could fall in the metro area Monday night.

Check the latest NWS forecast here.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson Katherine Benenati said Friday that crews have made significant progress clearing roadways since the freeways ground to a halt due to snow and ice on Wednesday. But they are still working 24/7 shifts for the foreseeable future to remove ice, snow and abandoned vehicles.

“Traffic is moving on the majority of routes,” she said. “Conditions are expected to improve through the day but we’re still expecting cold weather.”

Benenati advises people to avoid travel if at all possible until roadways improve. And she says anyone who absolutely must travel should call 511 or visit TripCheck.com for the latest conditions.

Parking tickets paused until weather improves

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is halting parking citations at meters and public parking spaces through Tuesday.

Many drivers also abandoned vehicles as road conditions quickly took a turn during Wednesday’s winter storm. PBOT said cars that still are blocking lanes of traffic will be towed, and that the vehicle owners will be responsible for towing fees.

More than 80 vehicles are currently in the queue for towing at PBOT’s request. Tow truck companies are overwhelmed by the high demand for their services from variety of agencies and organizations across the region.

As travel conditions improve Friday evening and Saturday, PBOT urges the public to consider traveling safely to recover vehicles they may have abandoned, but to be prepared to halt travel if conditions worsen again over the weekend.

A suggested alternative is to use public transit until weather improves.

Packed ice on Milwaukie Avenue in Sellwood, Feb. 23, 2023.

Packed ice on Milwaukie Avenue in Sellwood, Feb. 23, 2023.

Stephani Gordon / OPB


Related Stories