Ice storm warning issued for Vancouver through Sunday night

By Mark Bowder, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

Updated: February 8, 2014, 8:20 PM

 

A daytime of snow is turning into an evening of ice.

The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning effective through 10 p.m. Sunday.

Forecasters say a mixture of snow and sleet will quickly turn into freezing rain for most areas this evening.

Freezing rain will continue through the night, with a brief break Sunday morning -- but another round of freezing rain Sunday afternoon through evening.

Ice accumulations of a quarter to a half inch are forecast.

Snow-covered roads will become coated with ice, including Interstate 5 and Interstate 205, forecasters said. Downed limbs could cause power outages, and residents should be prepared to be without power for several hours, possibly longer.

An outage map maintained by Clark Public Utilities was already showing scattered outages this evening.

The Washington Department of Transportation released a statement this evening asking drivers to avoid traveling if at all possible.

"Icy roads can be very hazardous, even for experienced and well-equipped drivers like WSDOT's crews," the statement said. "Additionally, the weight of ice on top of so much snow can cause trees and tree limbs to come crashing down onto roadways."

If travel is necessary, traction devices are highly recommended, the statement said. Drivers should check road conditions before heading out and carry winter travel gear and an emergency kit in their vehicles.

In Portland, TriMet announced that it was stopping service on all its MAX lines due to significant weather-related issues.

"We are currently moving any train we can to a platform to allow passengers to get off," the transit agency said in an announcement. "Doors will be closed to keep passengers warm, but the doors will operate by pushing the door release button to allow people to come and go. We are currently dispatching buses to transport riders."

Strong winds from the Columbia River Gorge will hold temperatures below freezing overnight. Light precipitation will continue overnight, with slippery road conditions expected on Sunday.

Temperatures are expected to remain near freezing until a more significant weather system moves into the area on Tuesday.

Bad weather has led to the cancellation or delay of numerous events in Clark County this weekend. The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency has started a list of closures on its website, including a list of church services cancelled for Sunday.

One service set to continue Sunday is a memorial service for Air Force Capt. Christopher Stover, who died Jan. 7 in a training flight along the English coast. The service is at 2 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in east Vancouver, 17010 N.E. Ninth St.

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District also reported this morning that the Stevenson library and all its libraries with Saturday hours (Battle Ground, Cascade Park, Ridgefield, The Mall Library Connection, Three Creeks, Vancouver, Washougal) will be closed today.

Most roads remain covered in snow and ice, and forecasters warn that additional snow and ice accumulation may bring down tree limbs and power lines, with some power outages likely. Chains are required on many Oregon highways.

The weather has caused flight delays and cancellations at Portland International Airport, though airport officials expect most flights to operate today. Click here for an updated list of flights maintained by PDX, or check with your airline.

Friday’s weather set a new record for the coldest high temperature in Vancouver at 28 degrees, breaking a record of 35 set in 1929.

Today’s expected high is 28, with an overnight low of 26 degrees. Temperatures should rise to 35 on Sunday, with a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain expected, with a warm-up expected on Monday.

The Associated Press reports that more than 3,000 people in the Portland region were without power Saturday morning, but most had the lights back before noon. Farther south, The Register-Guard newspaper reported that downed trees have caused widespread outages in the rural communities near Eugene. The Springfield Utility Board, meanwhile, said 2,000 customers were without power, primarily in downtown and east Springfield.

"The (Monday) morning commute could be a little sketchy," said Miles Higa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The Oregon State Police said troopers statewide have responded to about 600 weather-related crashes since Thursday morning. The only fatality occurred Friday afternoon, when ice caused a man to lose to control of his vehicle on Interstate 84 near Rooster Rock and crash into a tree, killing a female passenger.

Troopers have also responded to about 900 motorists who needed assistance because of the conditions, Lt. Steve Mitchell said.

Police and public officials have urged people not to drive, and that message was heeded by most as many streets were empty Saturday.

Residents also had fewer reasons to leave home as the Oregon Zoo, Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Library and many shops were closed.

For bicyclists, the weather even doomed the annual "Worst Day of the Year Ride" scheduled for this weekend. Organizers had hoped to stage a 15-mile ride through downtown after announcing Thursday that its more challenging 46-mile event through the hills of west Portland was canceled for safety reasons.

"Alas, Mother Nature wins this round," organizers announced on the event's website Saturday.

The Associated Press and staff writer Eric Florip contributed to this report.