Roads stay snow-packed until temperatures rise

PBOT says 251 cars were towed between January 10 and 13

Dozens of cars were abandoned on Portland streets during the snow storm on January 10, 2017. (KOIN)
Dozens of cars were abandoned on Portland streets during the snow storm on January 10, 2017. (KOIN)


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you are one the numerous drivers who left a car along one of Portland’s snowy roads this week, you may return to find that is has been towed.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said they have towed some cars to Washington Park, near the Oregon Zoo. The parking lots there are usually paid spots with no overnight parking but drivers can leave their cars there until Monday without being fined.

Call 503.823.0044 to find out where your car was towed

ODOT said people should come prepared to dig their cars out of snow and ice.

PBOT said a total of 251 cars were towed between 6 p.m. January 10 and 10:30 a.m. January 13.

River also said PBOT is enforcing downtown parking meters as of Friday morning.

Road conditions 

As people get back out on the roads, even days after the last snowflakes fell, they may find some roads are still treacherous.

Crews have been plowing nearly 520 miles, or 26% of Portland streets.

PBOT and its Seattle counterparts have been working around the clock spreading salt and plowing roads. Seattle trucks tested salt along the west lane of SW Terwilliger Blvd. from Sam Jackson Rd. to Capitol Blvd. Eastbound lane got magnesium chloride — the usual anti-ice chemical used in Portland.

KOIN crews drove the road to see how the experiment fared, but found the conditions hadn’t changed much and lanes were just as snow backed Friday as ever. PBOT said plows can only clear down to 1 inch above the street’s surface.

Crews try to create traction on the roads with gravel but there will still be slick areas until warmer temperatures and rain clear the remaining snow.

After the snow fell on Tuesday and Wednesday, there were as many as 28 road closures in Portland, PBOT said. After de-icing and plowing efforts, there were only 8 closures Friday.

Getting around

A driver put chains on the tires to get around Portland after snow and freezing rain, Jan. 4, 2016 (KOIN)
A driver put chains on the tires to get around Portland after snow and freezing rain, Jan. 4, 2016 (KOIN)

The danger of cars slipping and sliding are still very real with roads in this condition.

“You get a hard frozen tire against a hard frozen surface you’re not going to get any traction you’re going to slip and slide,” Affordable Tires manager Mike McMillen said.

Chains or traction tires make driving in snow and ice easier and safer. McMillen said many people who don’t prepare their cars for winter will get out on the road not knowing how their car will respond to the conditions.

He also said a car that isn’t properly equipped can might end up costing more than the snow tires or chains if it gets damaged.

“When the tire is pointed directly at the curb and hits the curb it definitely does damage to the suspension component and it can get even worse than the suspension,” McMillen said. “You also could damage the tire. Damage the wheel and that’s where stuff starts to add up.”

The alternative to preparing your car for winter weather is easy — don’t try to drive. Take public transportation or carpool with someone who does have traction devices on their car.