Planning ahead for severe weather
- Create an emergency plan for winter with your family and work colleagues with an emphasis on working from home, taking public transit, and having an emergency meeting location. Check our Winter Weather Center to see the snow and ice routes nearest you.
- Make a checklist for your home, business, and 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. They should also be prepared to warn the public of overhead dangers around the property such as falling snow or ice. If your home or business is in an area prone to landslides--especially during periods of heavy rain or snow melt--be prepared to keep ditches, culverts, and trash racks clear of debris that could impact runoff. Carry snow chains for your vehicles, at a minimum. See below for a full list of items you should have in your vehicle in the event of winter weather.
- Stay informed. Sign up at Public Alerts for emergency notifications from all regional agencies via text, email, or phone. Go to PBOT’s Winter Weather Center to track real-time weather, traffic, road closures, and plow information. Sign up for PBOT alerts via text or email. Follow @PBOTInfo on all social media.
- Stock up on provisions such as food, water, clothes, and medications you, 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.
- Prepare to move your car off our snow and ice routes to give room for snow plows and other equipment.
Delaying your trip
- Avoid travel in severe weather, if you can avoid it.
- Stay informed. Sign up at Public Alerts for emergency notifications from all regional agencies via text, email, or phone. Use ODOT's TripCheck to check highway conditions. Go to PBOT’s Winter Weather Center to track real-time weather, traffic, road closures, and plow information. Sign up for PBOT alerts via text or email. Follow @PBOTInfo on all social media.
- Wait until conditions improve before venturing out and allow extra time to reach your destination. Severe winter weather can change quickly and without warning, making travel unpredictable. A single snow or ice storm can impact each neighborhood differently depending on weather patterns, timing, and geography.
- Allow our plows and emergency vehicles to get out ahead of you to treat the roads.
- Support local businesses while you wait for road conditions to improve.
Tips for taking public transit
- Plan your route at TriMet.org or call 503-238-7433 (RIDE) for bus and MAX. Portland Streetcar schedules and information here.
- Allow extra time for unexpected delays.
- For service to OHSU's Marquam Hill campus, check Portland Aerial Tram for information on capacity and hours during severe weather.
Tips for pedestrians
- Cross at a crosswalk or corner. Remember that drivers may take longer to stop in rainy or icy conditions.
- Establish eye contact with drivers and continue looking left-right-left while crossing.
- Wear contrasting clothing. Use reflective materials when it’s dark outside or carry a flashlight.
- Dress warmly, in layers. Don’t forget gloves and a hat. You lose 35% of your body heat through your head.
- Wear shoes with added traction. Avoid slipping and falling on wet or icy surfaces.
Tips for biking
- Stay dry and warm with fenders, waterproof layers, gloves, and caps.
- Use wider tires for added stability, traction, and control.
- Watch for road hazards in severe weather. Storms may knock out power or traffic signals. There could be fallen trees or branches, flooding, mud from landslides, or other debris blocking the street or sidewalk. Report any road hazards to PBOT's 24/7 Maintenance Dispatch at 503-823-1700 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Use front and rear bicycle lights. For more visibility, wear bright clothing or use reflective tape.
- Slow down on newly wet roads which can be oily and slick.
- Watch for wet leaves which can also be slick.
- Brake early and often. Slow down, give yourself longer stopping distances, and keep a firmer grip on your handlebars.
- Avoid puddles which can disguise deep potholes. Report potholes and other road hazards
- Avoid painted or steel surfaces like steel plates, railroad tracks, sewer covers. Cross rails at a 90-degree angle and keep your bike upright when crossing to avoid slipping.
- Do not pass snowplows, sanding trucks, or other emergency vehicles. In fact, give our crews even extra room. To keep our crews safe from coronavirus, vehicles will only have one person in them, the driver. That means no extra set of eyes to see you.
- Additional tips can be found on ODOT's Winter Travel Tips page.
Tips for driving
- Plan your route. Check our Winter Weather Center to see the snow and ice routes nearest you. To check road and weather conditions throughout Oregon, go to ODOT's TripCheck.
- Buy chains. Practice putting them on in dry weather, carry them in your vehicle, and use them. Check PBOT's Winter Weather Road Closure and Chain Advisory page for details.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated, and have good tread, to avoid skidding, drifting, or hydroplaning.
- Look out for pedestrians and people biking.
- Travel gently. Drive, turn, and brake slowly.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other travelers.
- Do not pass snowplows, sanding trucks, or other emergency vehicles. In fact, give our crews even extra room.
- Obey all street closures and barricades. Violations may result in steep penalties.
- When visibility or conditions worsen, do NOT stop in a travel lane. Look for a safe, legal space off our plow routes to park or wait for conditions to improve
- Carry an emergency weather kit. 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 flashlight.
- Additional tips can be found on ODOT's Winter Travel Tips page.
Tips if you get stranded in your vehicle
- Pull off the road into a safe parking area off our major streets and plow routes.
- Wait for conditions to improve.
- Do NOT call 9-1-1. Only call 9-1-1 if you are having a medical emergency or reporting a crime.
- Stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Use your emergency flashers, run your motor sparingly, and open a window for ventilation.
- If you choose to leave your vehicle, DO NOT abandon it in the travel lane. This may block our crews and other emergency responders. Your vehicle will be cited, towed, and impounded. To locate towed vehicles, visit search.autoreturn.com or call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.
- Walk with extreme caution to the nearest public transit stop, restaurant, or hotel.
- Recover your vehicle as soon as possible.
Translated winter travel tips
PBOT has translated all of the winter travel tips on this page into several languages. For each language, download a colorful one-pager as a PDF, or a Word document with both the English and translated versions side-by-side to help provide these tips to your community as you see fit: