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PBOT sprays anti-icer on roads ahead of frosty conditions, first time this season

Filling a truck with de-icer - KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – For the first time this season, Portland's transportation bureau used anti-icer on city streets to prevent ice from forming on bridges and at high elevations.

KATU’s Rhonda Shelby said we’re looking at a long, dry weather pattern with overnight lows reaching freezing level, which could make for frosty morning commutes through the rest of the week.

PBOT crews put down 4,600 gallons of the Magnesium Chloride solution early Tuesday morning.

“It's gotten really cold, at some of the higher elevations we were a little concerned that it would dip down below freezing, and if it gets foggy or there is moisture in the air, you can get some slick conditions, especially at the higher elevations and the bridges and some of those shady spots,” said John Brady, a PBOT spokesperson.

PBOT referred to it as anti-icing on Tuesday morning instead of de-icing. While they use the same chemical, Brady says they call it anti-icing when they use it to prevent ice and de-icing when they use it to thaw ice that already formed.

This week’s unusually dry weather will prove to be an advantage for PBOT. Brady says it will likely last between five and seven days before they will need to reapply.

“Dry conditions are always better for liquid anti-icer so the rain doesn't wash it off,” he said.

Also new this year, Brady says they installed signs around the city, particularly in the west hills, to alert drivers when they are at 500 feet and 1,000 feet above sea level. Brady says that should let a driver know that there may be slick conditions ahead.

Other cities deployed anti-icer for the first time this season too, including Salem and Vancouver. Vancouver mixes their own solution of Sodium Chloride.

State roads in Oregon and Southwest Washington do things a little different. Rather than pre-treat miles of road in the metro areas, they spot-treat roads when needed. Crews drive around at night when they expect temperatures to be near freezing and treat trouble spots when necessary. ODOT has been using de-icer on roads near Mt. Hood.

Brady says the anti-icer should be a first warning for drivers that winter is coming.

“Our message is get prepared. We're prepared, so we're asking Portlanders to get prepared. So if you don't have that emergency kit in your car, get that ready. if you don't have the chains, get those,” he said.

You can track Portland anti-icing and de-icing routes and snow plow routes here.

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