PORTLAND – The last installment in a trilogy of Northwest storms caused scattered power outages Saturday, and there were expectations of more to come as the snow turned to freezing rain and ice for a wide swath of Oregon.
The National Weather Service said Portland received 2 inches of snow before it changed to sleet around sunset, and it forecast a half-inch of ice accumulation by this morning. Elsewhere Saturday, freezing rain fell from the wine country southwest of Portland to the lower Willamette Valley south of Eugene, triggering an ice-storm warning that stretched for more than 100 miles.
“Snow is bad. But ice is worse,” said Miles Higa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
More than 3,000 people in the Portland region were without power Saturday morning, but almost all had lights before noon. The number edged back up to more than 400 by evening and was expected to rise as it became icier late Saturday.
Farther south, the Statesman Journal reported power outages Saturday near Silverton and Mt. Angel. And downed trees caused widespread outages in the rural communities near Eugene, according to the Register-Guard newspaper. The Springfield Utility Board, meanwhile, said 2,000 customers lost power, primarily in downtown and east Springfield.
The snow began swirling in Portland shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, falling on top of streets and sidewalks packed with snow from storms that struck Thursday and Friday. Portland sometimes goes an entire winter without snow, and residents and businesses were not prepared to shovel.
The transition to freezing rain was likely to make the roads extra treacherous and the sidewalks more slippery.
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 control of his vehicle on Interstate 84 near Rooster Rock State Park and crash into a tree, killing his passenger, a 37-year-old Portland woman.
Troopers also have responded to about 900 motorists who needed help because of the conditions, Lt. Steve Mitchell said.
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.