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Winter storm blankets Northwest in sleet and freezing rain, leaves thousands without power

A blanket of sleet covered roads Friday morning, Dec. 23, 2022, in Southeast Portland and throughout the surrounding metro area after an ice and wind storm hit the Pacific Northwest region.

Around 10,000 Oregonians were without power across the state Friday morning after an ice storm blanketed the region overnight.

Warming shelters have also opened across the state. Anyone needing a warm place to stay during the storm can call 211 to find the nearest shelter space available.

Temperatures dropped well below freezing in many parts of Oregon and Washington and wind gusts added to the chill. According to the National Weather Service, areas like the Columbia Gorge were hit particularly hard with wind gusts ranging from about 40 mph up to 80 mph, creating a wind chill of negative 10 degrees.

In Southwest Washington, officials issued an alert Thursday night as freezing rain led to several accidents on I-5, I-205 and State Route 14 through the Gorge.

In Benton County, a temporary overnight,overflow warming center has been set up for people who couldn’t access other shelters. It will be open from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. December 22-23, 2022 at First Christian Church in Corvallis.

Stay home if you can

Roads were treacherous at the start of the morning commute and could stay challenging for much of the day as more freezing rain falls. Interstate 84 between Troutdale and Hood River is closed.

Transportation officials have advised people to stay home unless travel is absolutely necessary.

Travel for the holiday weekend appeared precarious Friday morning, as nearly all flights in and out of the Portland International Airport were cancelled through noon. TriMet and C-Tran continued to operate buses and MAX trains throughout the storm, though with some delays. The MAX Red Line service was interrupted due to ice on overhead wires. TriMet said early Friday that it had canceled some routes at higher elevations, and that its buses would begin using traction chains. The chains will slow buses to 25 mph, and the transit agency reminded riders that no one will be turned away for not having a fare if they are heading to a warm place or simply need to ride transit to stay warm.

For Amtrak, trains 7/27 & 8/28 (Empire Builder) with origins in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland are canceled through Sunday.

Just before 9 a.m., the Astoria Megler Bridge closed due severe winter weather conditions. The Washington Department of Transportation Southwest said its crews are working around the lock, “but with freezing temps & more precipitation in the forecast, it is advisable to stay home until conditions improve.”

Forecasts show temperatures across the region are expected to warm to above freezing late Friday afternoon and overnight. Rain will continue and is expected to melt much of the ice into Saturday.

Source: OPB

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