Winter Travel Advisory: PBOT urges the public to avoid travel tonight and Thursday morning, as forecast potential freezing rain returns tonight and Thursday night, creating hazardous travel conditions

Press Release
Be prepared for worse conditions than expected, as forecasts come with uncertainty about timing and amount of freezing rain
Published
Updated
An illustration of a Sasquatch shoveling snow on a street sidewalk with text that reads, "Get ready! Winter ready PDX."

(5:20 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) urges the public to avoid travel tonight and Thursday morning, as a forecast of freezing rain overnight tonight -- and again Thursday evening -- could make travel hazardous.

The National Weather Service has advised PBOT that freezing rain could start in the next several hours -- especially in areas of Portland east of Interstate 205.

There's a 50 percent chance of freezing rain citywide and across the metro area from 4 p.m. Thursday through early Friday morning. If east winds bring the temperature down to 32 degrees or lower, then the potential for freezing rain increases.

The high temperature of about 45 degrees that was expected to help start thawing today did not occur. 

The Weather Service has less confidence in the forecast of freezing rain tonight and Thursday night than there was ahead of Tuesday night's event.

The Weather Service has a high degree of confidence in a half inch or more of rain citywide on Thursday. That rain would cover already slushy and icy streets.

All forecasts come with uncertainty and they can change in the days and hours leading up to a storm event. 

For travel tips, an elevation map, road closures and more, see the PBOT weather hazards website 

PBOT advised the public on Jan. 8 about the potential for snow and high wind through this weekend. On Friday morning, Jan. 12, PBOT crews started 24-hour emergency response operations, working in 12-hour shifts.

As of today, they continue working around the clock through the end of the freezing rain event.

Don't abandon your vehicle:

Park in a legal space and find a warm, safe place to stay or walk to public transit

The City of Portland’s snow and ice plan discourages private vehicle use and encourages everyone to avoid travel during inclement weather.

If you do need to travel, consider public transit as your first option. Bundle up, be prepared to wait in extreme cold, and use extreme caution on sidewalks and streets. Always check trimet.org/alerts before heading out to get the very latest on delays, detours and cancellations. 

At the first sign of snow or ice, especially if it comes earlier than expected and you are away from home, it's best to avoid travel:

  • Find a safe, warm place to stay and delay your trip. Wait it out at the office, dine at a local restaurant or stay at a hotel to further delay travel. Those options may cost some money, but a citation and tow charges for an abandoned vehicle blocking a travel lane can cost more than $500 -- and still require you to walk home in snowy conditions.
  • Be prepared to travel based on the conditions you encounter during your trip. See accumulating snow? Slow down. Carry traction devices like chains and an emergency weather kit in your vehicle. Helpful items to include in addition to chains are a snow shovel, bag of sand, jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife), blanket and warm clothing, extra food and water, cell phone and extra charger, and a flashlight.

    View additional winter weather travel tips online.

  • If you do choose to drive and find yourself without traction, move your vehicle away from travel lanes. Any vehicle parked illegally may face a tow, especially any vehicle blocking a travel lane, streetcar tracks or other public transit route. Abandoned vehicles that block travel lanes can slow down emergency responders and the snowplow operators who make safe passage for them.

PBOT’s mission is to provide at least one passable lane in each direction on snow and ice routes so that vehicles with front wheel drive or traction devices can get through. Depending on the severity of snow and ice, it can take up to three 12-hour shifts for our crews to sufficiently treat our routes with anti-icer. In a major snowfall, it can take our crews up to one 12-hour shift to plow our routes.

See our Winter Weather Center for a full interactive map of our routes.

A PBOT crew member installs heavy trains onto a truck ahead of winter weather.

A PBOT crew member installs heavy trains onto a truck ahead of winter weather. Photo by PBOT.

During a winter weather event:

If you need to travel, consider TriMet: If you cannot delay 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. Public transportation schedules can be found via TriMet’s website, as well as PortlandStreetcar.org/schedules.

Monitor road closures: Current PBOT winter weather road closures and chain advisories

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.

Report Road Hazards Call PBOT Maintenance emergency dispatch 24/7 at 503-823-1700 or email at pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov or use the PDX Reporter mobile website.

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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portland.gov/transportation