The Portland area began to see snow, sleet and freezing temperatures Thursday — and Mother Nature was just getting started.
A winter storm warning for the Portland area remains in effect until noon Friday, cautioning residents against a barrage of wintry precipitation, high winds and ice. And the National Weather Service said things could get even more serious, with potential for a “significant icestorm” between Portland and Salem beginning Friday afternoon and carrying into the weekend.
Many areas were already seeing icy conditions Thursday, with several crashes closing roads and delaying travel throughout the Portland area. A stretch of Northwest Germantown Road in the West Hills was closed indefinitely, for example, because of icy conditions and stalled cars.
Transportation officials warned of road closures, and law enforcement agencies urged people not to drive if they didn’t have to.
Precipitation is expected to increase Friday and Saturday. But whether the Portland area will get freezing rain, snow or a combination of the two remains to be seen.
The weather service said it’s most likely that the area gets between one and four inches of snow, then up to a quarter-inch of freezing rain. But the city could see more significant freezing rain — and less snow.
The weather service also predicted high winds will sweep through the area over the coming days, with wind speeds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts of up to 40 mph.
The agency predicts temperatures will top out at 31 degrees Friday in Portland. Highs are expected be above freezing over the weekend, but overnight temperatures through Saturday are expected to drop into the mid-20s.
Snowfall is expected to continue during the weekend, with the weather service anticipating between one and four inches of snow Saturday in Portland.
Portland transportation officials listed four road closures Thursday night: Germantown Road; Northeast 33rd Avenue at Sandy Boulevard; Northeast Halsey Street from 80th to 84th avenues; and Southwest Capitol Highway from Terwilliger to Barbur boulevards.
TriMet said Thursday evening that some of its bus routes would be detoured because of the weather. MAX trains weren’t hampered by the weather, according to the transit agency, but trains were using ice cutters on some routes.
Meanwhile, over 4,000 Portland General Electric customers were without power at 8 p.m.
Thursday brought harsher weather to the Columbia River Gorge.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office reported several crashes, poor visibility and dangerous road conditions on Interstate 84 in the gorge. Towing companies would likely take more than three hours to get to disabled vehicles, according to the agency.
A rare blizzard warning for the western part of the gorge also remains in effect until noon Friday.
Further east, Interstate 84 was closed at Arlington because of several crashes.
-Jayati Ramakrishnan; 503-221-4320; email@example.com; @JRamakrishnanOR