Metro area skips ice show; drier, warmer weather on the way

PORTLAND, Ore. - The temperature hovered just above freezing in most of the Portland area early Tuesday morning, but ice on roadways outside the city limits and at higher elevations caused numerous minor crashes.

A number of schools around the area delayed openings due to the slick conditions. Many school buses were also placed on snow routes. Portland Public Schools announced that schools on the west side of the city would start 2 hours late due to conditions.

Portland police closed Northwest Germantown Road between Highway 30 and Skyline Boulevard at 9:30 a.m. due to icy conditions.

The temperature at 5 a.m. in Portland was 34 degrees, according to KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby. The high for Tuesday was expected to creep up closer to 40 degrees around the area, melting away the ice, Shelby said.

Higher elevations will likely warm up even more due to a temperature inversion that has the freezing level near 11,000 feet, she said. Drier and warmer weather is on track for the rest of the week, Shelby said, but cold air is trapped by the inversion at some lower elevations.

Outside the city limits and at higher elevations Tuesday morning, slick streets were common and both Oregon and Washington law enforcement agencies reported numerous crashes.

Monday evening, the intersection of SW Miller Road and Barnes Road on Portland's West Slope was a trouble spot overnight as several vehicles and a small bus slid down the steep grade, taking out a power pole and crashing into ditches. One woman said she saw a UPS van slip and slide down the hill.

Additional vehicles coming down the hill slammed into the disable cars as well until K.C. Dawson went to to the top of the road to warn drivers of the danger ahead. Only minor injuries were reported and six vehicles in total were damaged.

"Cars just piled on up until I got up there to stop them," Dawson said. He said all the cars that came over the hill before he got to the top slid by him but he was able to warn off a dozen drivers.

ODOT crews arrived and sanded the slippery stretch of road.

In the Vancouver area, SR503 north of Milepost 16 in Washington was icy all the way into Cowlitz County Tuesday morning, according to dispatchers in Clark County.

The forecast going into the week includes a slow rise in temperatures and dry conditions. Areas east of the Cascades will remain well below freezing, Shelby said.

Icy spots remain possible in many areas as the week goes on, especially in the Columbia River Gorge and at higher elevations, Shelby said.

Shelby also said thick fog, which may result in freezing fog, was a problem in places east and west of the Portland area Tuesday morning.

There is also a stagnant air advisory in effect, according to the National Weather Service.