Icy Portland streets hit Christmas Eve travelers

Drivers urged off the roads

PORTLAND, Ore. - (Update: Portland area hit by 'sheet of ice' roads)

A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain made Christmas Eve holiday travel challenging over large areas of Washington state, Oregon and Idaho on Sunday -- and in Portland, the roads turned to an ice rink Sunday night, even stranding forecasters in their office.

"Roads are a complete sheet of ice out there," the National Weather Service tweeted. "Some of our forecast staff will likely be sleeping at the office tonight."

ODOT Webcams showed backed up freeway traffic and icy streets, while Portland TV stations also showed scenes of crashes, buses sliding off the road and more.

The NWS said temperatures should top freezing in the Portland area Christmas morning -- but it also warned that another storm system late Tuesday and Wednesday could bring more ice to the Columbia River Gorge, and possibly the Portland area.

By midday Sunday, more than two-dozen crashes had been reported by ODOT, and the NWS advised drivers to avoid traveling Sunday if possible.
KGW reported icy roads throughout the Portland area as a mix of snow and sleet continued to fall. The NWS said Sunday's Portland-area temperatures were colder than expected, holding below freezing and causing the sleet or snow. An inch or two of snow as expected for most of the Portland area north of Tigard and Oregon City.

Meanwhile, ODOT also reported icy conditions along Interstate 84 in the central and eastern Columbia River Gorge. Motorists were advised to travel with caution.

Forecasters said snow also was falling west of Olympia and was beginning to accumulate in Chehalis, Washington.
They say 1 to 3 inches of snow could arrive by Christmas morning.
The weather service issued a winter storm warning from 7 p.m. Sunday until 4 p.m. in Idaho. The warning covers Palouse, Lewiston, lower Asotin and Garfield counties.

The Bend area saw a second day of a thin new layer of snow, while areas to the north got more snow, on the order of 1-2 inches. Several non-injury crashes were reported, including a pickup truck that slid into and snapped a power pole on NW Gerke Road northwest of Prineville. The road was closed Sunday afternoon until a Pacific Power crew could replace the pole, though a Crook County sheriff's deputy said the lines were still intact.

It was a record cold start to Christmas Eve in the northeast Oregon town of Meacham, where the temperature plunged to -14, smashing the old Dec. 24 mark of 0 degrees, set back in 1948. Those records date back to 1929, the NWS said.

Check the latest road conditions on our ODOT TripCheck page.

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