PBOT urges everyone to prepare for snow, cold temperatures this holiday weekend through next week

Traffic Advisory
This image says "Get Ready!" with an image of the Portland Bureau of Transportation's winter ready sasquatch mascot.
PBOT has cancelled planned vacation time for hundreds of essential employees, expecting 24-hour operations this holiday weekend.
Time to put the finishing touches on your family's winter weather emergency response plan.

(Dec. 23, 2021) The National Weather Service has advised the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to expect snow across the city and the Portland area, even at areas of low elevation, from Saturday evening through Monday. Areas above 500 feet in elevation could see snow showers Friday and Saturday evenings, and accumulating snow on streets on Sunday through early next week. 

With temperatures expected to drop to freezing on Sunday through early next week, the public is strongly encouraged to monitor weather forecasts through the weekend, and be prepared to delay travel if conditions warrant. If you do need to travel during periods of snowy conditions, consider public transit as your first option, and be prepared for delays, and look for alerts and changes to transit routes.

With the potential for freezing temperatures next week, snow and other precipitation on city streets on Monday could linger for several days, especially on streets that are not snow and ice routes.

PBOT canceling planned vacation time for essential employees, planning for 24-hour operations this holiday weekend

PBOT maintenance operations crews are essential employees. Most have been reporting to work, in person, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In winter weather, their work is essential to ensure routes are drivable for police, fire, paramedics and other first responders. Their work is also critical to ensuring routes are usable for public transit vehicles, including TriMet and Portland Streetcar operations.

PBOT crews expect to start working in 12-hour shifts starting on Saturday morning, and are expecting to continue working around the clock through early next week. Planned and committed vacation time has been canceled for hundreds of employees.

Since October, PBOT has been advising the public to be prepared for winter weather. Now is the time to update your plans and make sure you have the supplies you may need in case you need to delay travel this weekend.

  • Avoid travel in severe weather, and make a plan to help you delay your travel if at all possible. If you must travel, consider public transit your first option to avoid driving.
  • Make a checklist for your home, business, and/or vehicle. Property owners, tenants and businesses should have supplies on hand, such as ice melt and snow shovels to clear sidewalks as well as pathways across their driveways.
  • Everyone driving in Portland should carry snow chains and an emergency kit in their vehicle all winter long.
  • Create an emergency plan with your family or work colleagues that emphasizes telecommuting, public transit and emergency meeting locations for your commute. Check our Winter Weather Center to see the snow and ice routes nearest you.
  • Stock up on provisions ahead of major winter weather events such as food, water, clothes, and medicationsyou, your family, your pets, or your business will need in case you are stranded by winter weather -- at home, or on the road in your vehicle.
  • Check in with vulnerable neighbors who may need help stocking up on supplies ahead of a storm or clearing their sidewalks afterward — especially those who are older adults and people with disabilities. If you see someone outside whose life appears to be in danger or is in an apparent medical crisis, call 911 to alert first responders. If you see someone you are concerned about but who may not be in imminent danger (like someone who isn’t dressed appropriately for the weather), call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333 and request a welfare check. To help someone find shelter and arrange transportation to shelter during cold or severe weather, please call 2-1-1.
  • Know your elevation, and the elevation of areas you are traveling to and through. Check the interactive elevation map in the "Elevation, Weather and Traffic" section of PBOT’s Winter Weather Center to see if your area is located at 500 feet or 1,000 above sea level. Use PortlandMaps.com to look up any address in Portland and find the approximate elevation.
  • Report downed trees. Did you see a downed tree or large limb on City property or public streets? Report it by calling 503-823-TREE (8733). Please be patient; Urban Forestry crews are minimizing safety risks and clearing the largest debris first. Emergency dispatchers are available 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
  • Wondering about other city services and infrastructure? Prepare and stay up to date on water pipes, garbage collection and more at the City's winter resources website. Includes how to find support, or how you can support people who are experiencing homelessness this winter.

Learn about how Portland responds to winter weather, see winter weather travel tips in English, Chinese (Simplified), Chuuck (Chuukese), नेपाली (Nepali), Română (Romanian), русский (Russian), Somali, Español (Spanish), Українська (Ukranian), Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) and more: Portland.gov/Winter

A screenshot of PBOT's Winter Weather Center, showing snow and ice routes, anti-icing routes and salt routes.

Do you know which streets PBOT plows in your area? Check the maps on the Winter Weather Center: www.winterreadypdx.com 

State Highways are maintained by the Oregon Department of Transportation, for example: SE Powell Boulevard, 82nd Avenue and SW Barbur Boulevard. See Ask ODOT and check highway conditions before you go at TripCheck.com 

Be aware of weather forecasts, use caution, and, if possible, delay your travel to avoid traveling during forecast snow or ice. Consider public transit, and check trimet.org/alerts and portlandstreetcar.org for service alerts before you go.

Remember property owners, tenants and businesses are responsible for clearing sidewalks of snow and ice. It is important that sidewalks are clear so that people who are walking to transit and people with disabilities can move about safely.

In icy conditions, PBOT strongly advises delaying travel if possible. If people must travel, PBOT recommends taking public transit.

See areas at 500 feet or 1,000 feet or higher in the PBOT Winter Weather Center

A screenshot of PBOT's Winter Weather Center, showing traffic cameras and elevations.

Use PortlandMaps.com to look up any address in Portland and find the approximate elevation

  • Stay informed. Sign up for PBOT alerts via text or email. Go to PBOT’s Winter Weather Center to track real-time weather, traffic, road closures and plow information. Sign up at Public Alerts for emergency notifications from all regional agencies via text, email or phone. 
  • Never abandon your vehicle in a travel lane, especially on rail tracks for Portland Streetcar and MAX light rail. If you choose to drive and your vehicle loses traction, pull over into a shoulder or legal parking space. You can call for a tow truck and remain with your vehicle. Or you can leave your vehicle legally parked and walk carefully to a public transit stop or other safe place.
  • Don't get towed! Any vehicle blocking a travel lane or otherwise creating a safety hazard is subject to citation, tow and impound. The cost of a citation and tow for abandoned vehicles preventing free passage is $206. This is in addition to the citation cost of a Class B traffic violation (ORS 819.100) with a presumptive fine of $270. Additional costs to store a towed vehicle longer than four hours is $28 per day.

PBOT’s Mission: In winter weather, our crews work around the clock on our designated snow and ice routes to make sure there is one passable lane in each direction as soon as possible after a winter storm.

This means that front wheel drive vehicles or vehicles with traction devices such as snow chains will be able to get through.

Due to our modified operations since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we urge the public to give our crews extra time and extra room. To keep our crews safe from coronavirus, vehicles will only have one person in them: the driver.