In rare Oregon fashion, we have been getting snow in the city. And in even rarer fashion, it’s been sticking – and how. Right now there is a mandatory chain or 4WD+studded tires restriction on all roads. My car can’t be fitted with chains, but it wouldn’t matter anyway – cars are buried in place as there has been no snowplows down my street since this started over a week ago. In fact, as I type this, there are people cross country skiing around outside my windows in the street – and it seems to be the preferred method to get around town.
It all started simple enough mid-last week:
Snow had been coming on/off over the end of last week. It would stick and make things slick as it froze up and turned to ice. When you don’t use salt and have only half a dozen plow trucks, the roads really do get slick when they aren’t touched (see the previous post on yakkity-driving of Portland). As of today, the streets around my house haven’t been plowed once since this all started a week ago.
But starting on Friday, it got going in a serious way. It’s been snowing almost solid for 2 days now and the winds have been bitter and hard. I ventured out during one break and now it looks like this:
That’s about a foot or better of unplowed snow. Here’s my neighbor’s mini – yep there’s a car in there somewhere:
But this is revealing, here’s how the last *two* days of snow have piled up. It snowed for about 36 hours very hard, then we had about an hour or so of freezing rain, a break, then about 12 more hours of snow. When digging through a car, it looks like this. That’s whats on everything right now (including the streets)
I-84 closes in the Columbia gorge for days
The only eastern road out of Portland is closed indefinitely – for at least a few days. Right now, I-84 out in the gorge was closed after 50mph winds and 1-2 feet of snow fell in just about 24 hours. Video of what it looked like even before it closed is here (Troutdale is at the exit of the gorge – not even in the actual gorge itself). Visibility was below 10 feet and there were semi’s jackknifed and cars that simply got buried in the snow *as they were driving* as the winds moved around feet of snow at a time. The TV crews sat at this gas station right at the entrance of the gorge and interviewed semi-shell-shocked folks as the cops and rescue folks pulled them out of the gorge – leaving cars/etc behind. Right now, 24 hours later, the storm is still blowing 60mph winds and even the road crews aren’t going in.
Admiral Ackbar says: “We’re trapped!”
Right now the Portland airport looks like this – and it’s not too bad today:
Needless to say, very few, if any flights have gotten out the last two days. Folks that were trapped there 2 days ago are just now getting scheduled for flight after Christmas day. I put my prospects of getting home for Christmas at slightly less than 50/50.
All the highways west to the coast range are closed as is the major east route of I84. All trains going north to Seattle or south to Cali are canceled, Greyhound has been only sporadically getting people in/out. Salem to the south is having an ice storm right now that should just about shut I5 down in that area. In other words folks – we aren’t going anywhere:
But, I stocked up on groceries a few days ago and living downtown I can walk or take a few of the remaining buses around if needed. So, I sit at home with the news on and work at home. Thank goodness I can write code anywhere. Things are looking up though – it appears that temps will increase, snowing has mostly passed, and today doesn’t look too bad. Maybe I’ll go out for another walk…