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Traffic, Road Issues, Power Outages Expected from Oregon Coast Range to Portland, Eugene

Published 1/16/24 at 5:35 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Traffic, Road Issues, Power Outages Expected from Oregon Coast Range to Portland, Eugene

(Oregon Coast) – A multitude of warnings, outages and road issues are on their way to northwestern Oregon, including some of the Oregon coast. However, the greatest number of problems will be in the the Columbia Gorge, Oregon Coast Range, Portland / Vancouver Metro Area, and the Willamette Valley down through Eugene. A day-long ice storm is slowly descending on the region and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is telling the public to just stay home. (Photo courtesy Angi D Wildt Gallery in Astoria: icy streets in Seaside this weekend)

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See the ice storm warnings in effect through Tuesday night for the region.

Electricity Outages: Power outages and no way to heat homes has been an especially brutal result of this weekend's storm. Nearly 2,000 residents are still in the dark in Lincoln and Lane counties on the coast (as of 4 a.m. Tuesday). Some 33,000 people are still without electricity in the Portland and Clackamas County region.

Subzero temperatures and the strain of ice are expected to topple more trees in these areas and create more power outages.

Road Hazards

There are no issues on the south coast - south of Florence - nor any impending ones.

Freezing rain is going to be the enemy for everyone in the I-5 corridor, the valley and Coast Range, starting early Tuesday morning. For the Portland Metro area, which had roads that were reasonably traversable in the snow, all that wet stuff will freeze and freezing rain will bring an even larger layer of ice. Up to a quarter inch or even half an inch in some sections are possible. Areas closer to the Gorge will get more and have a longer thaw when temps rise early Wednesday, but those spots farther south and west will have an easier time.

Photo courtesy Angi D Wildt Gallery in Astoria

ODOT said very simply: “It means we all should spend one more day waiting it out.”

David House, spokesman for ODOT, said all this freezing rain is a potential repeat of Saturday.

The biggest issue for the coast will be nearby in the passes to and from the beaches, with coastal towns rising into the 40s Tuesday but still some lingering issues.

“It may be less severe on the coast, but there is a risk of skating rink in areas,” he said. “Crossing the Coast Range will get more difficult at least until mid-week, and the entire Willamette Valley is expecting freezing rain tomorrow after the coldest night of this whole storm tonight. We’re again advising people to delay travel until later in the week if at all possible.”

Earlier on Monday, Highway 126W between Mapleton and Veneta had been closed due to downed trees, but that is open now.

Also on Monday, city authorities in Seaside were advising there were delays near Cannon Beach because of various cars by the side of the road.

ODOT crews will be working around the clock with deicers, plows and salt and sand.

Just south of Eugene had been an extreme case in delays, with some stuck on that part of the highway for a very long time. The backup from that and other conditions continued for hours Monday, but is showing that as a delay under 20 minutes as of 5 a.m. Tuesday.

ODOT said in a release:

“A major factor in the I-5 slowdown is vehicles not chaining up or stopping to chain up in the travel lanes. Law enforcement has begun to cite violators of the chain law. Alternate routes are not viable because they are less maintained in winter weather and also impacted by this ice storm.”

ODOT said if you must travel, be prepared. Plan extra time for your journey and carry emergency supplies. Delays and closures are happening statewide. Expect to encounter chain restrictions.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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