City warns about ice; warming centers open Monday night

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland's mayor is urging commuters to use public transportation instead of driving in possible dangerous conditions over the next couple of mornings.

"Do not drive on snowy, slushy or icy streets," Mayor Sam Adams said. "If you must drive, delay your trip until conditions improve and be ready to use chains, especially in elevations above 500 feet."

KATU meteorologists and the National Weather Service are predicting that snow showers could increase on Monday night and into Tuesday morning, especially at higher elevations. The commute on Wednesday morning could also be slick.

In this kind of weather, black ice can quickly become a major problem in the Portland area. The Portland Bureau of Transportation warned that motorists and bicyclists should be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, shady spots and streets that wind around rivers. Those areas typically freeze first and thaw last.

"Mostly what we're focusing on is the possibility of some freezing rain, which may mean some black ice in some areas around the city," said Cheryl Kuck with the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

If you ride the bus, expect delays.

Tri-Met is putting chains on their fleet of buses, which limits their speed to 25 miles per hour. Despite the slow speeds, Tri-Met said busses will run at regular intervals on Tuesday.

City road crews have been applying anti-icing chemicals on high-risk areas since the weekend. But with rain in the forecast, new chemicals can't be applied because they would wash away.

On Monday afternoon, some snow stuck to side roads in the higher elevations around town. There were some delays on Highway 26 through the West Hills.

Despite the flurries, most drivers and neighborhos in the West Hills who spoke with KATU said they weren't too worried.

"You know, this is Portland. Every hour is different as far as the weather goes," said Davida Wilson.

PBOT said crews are prepared to transition to snow and ice operations if conditions change.

The Oregon Red Cross will also open a warming center in Portland on Tuesday night.

The Red Cross Emergency Warming Center is located at the Imago Dei Community Campus, 1302 SE Ankeny, and is open to guests from 9:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M.

The center can accommodate up to 150 people.

Under wet conditions the city and Red Cross open warming center when the temperature drops below 32 degrees with wind or precipitation. The city makes the final call whether or not to open warming centers.

For more information on the warming center, including how to volunteer, see the Red Cross website.

Because the warming center is a short-term location with no storage capacity, they are not able to accept donations of blankets or clothing. Several year-round shelters are in need of these items; the community is urged to please call 211 Info (2-1-1 from a land line or 503-222-5555) for more information.

KATU reporter Bob Heye contributed to this report