Rush hour traffic is bad enough in most cities without dealing with wrecks, lane closures, or as in the case of motorists in Portland, Oregon, near-record snowfall last Wednesday. In all, the storm dropped 10.8 inches of snow, making it the second-largest snowstorm in the region's history.
It was enough to turn roads into parking lots as traffic reached a standstill. The worst problems occurred in and around downtown Portland including interstates I-5, I-205, and I-84. As a result, many drivers were stuck in their vehicles for up to seven hours, including a reporter, and her cameraman for KGW8 News.
According to the reporter, traffic would occasionally start moving for about a minute, only to stop again. They barely covered six miles in the first five hours as the snow quickly accumulated. Along the way, they saw a man cleaning off the windshield wipers on his Subaru, and another person trying to put snow chains on a Toyota Prius. People would also get out of their cars to stretch and try to see what was holding up traffic.
An untold number of people ran out of gas or chose to abandon their vehicles, taking their chances on foot. In addition to the highways, intersections turned into parking lots. At Northeast 41st Avenue and Wistaria Drive, several abandoned cars, two Ridwell vans, and even a TriMet bus remained stranded on Saturday.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation suspended issuing citations for abandoned cars but indicated owners would still be responsible for any towing fees. According to KGW8 weather, snow was expected to remain on the ground through the weekend, making it difficult to recover vehicles and possibly complicating Monday morning traffic.
More Winter Mayhem:
If you find yourself stuck in traffic or alongside the road due to winter weather, the best thing to do is stay in your car. Use gas sparingly, only running your car intermittently to warm up the interior. Also, if you plan to travel in winter weather, keeping your gas tank full and carrying blankets, water, and non-perishable food like protein bars in your vehicle is a good idea.