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Region slides into snowy Friday commute; colder air on the way


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Friday morning's snow caused traffic to back up on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard as a quarter-inch fell in parts of Portland.Even a light dusting of snow was enough to cause problems throughout the Portland region Friday morning.

And even colder weather is expected for the weekend — possibly including the coldest temperatures since 2009.

"Bitter cold east wind will continue today through the Columbia River gorge, spilling additional arctic air into the Portland metro area and points up and down the valley. If skies clear out tonight, all areas with snow cover will plummet to their coldest overnight temperatures in at least four years," said Steve Pierce of Northwest Weather Consultants.

Although Portland schools opened on time Friday, many in Marion, Columbia, Polk and Yamhill either closed or delayed classes. Traffic on major freeways were slowed by slippery conditions during the morning commute, and almost all TriMet buses were running late by mid-morning, some routes delayed by about 30 minutes.

The Columbia County Rider Transit bus from St. Helens to Portland was delayed because of problems on Highway 30 into Northwest Portland.

Forest Grove’s Grovelink transit system was on snow routes around parts of the western Washington County city.

The National Weather Service says snow began falling in the region early Friday morning, hitting some places east and west of Portland harder than others. South of Portland, the mid-Willamette Valley was blanketed in snow, causing several collisions on Interstate 5 between Salem and Eugene.

In some places around Portland it was a light dusting. In others, it accumulated on streets and sidewalks.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Traffic backed up on Northeast Fremont Street during Friday morning's snowfall.The snow isn’t expected to stick around Portland very long, according to National Weather Service forecasters, but the region is in for a blast of even colder air that will drop overnight temperatures next week into the teens, possible breaking records.

The heaviest snow accumulation was in the southern Willamette Valley and along the coast. By 8 a.m., 4.5 inches had fallen in Corvallis. In contrast, only a quarter-inch was reported in the higher elevations of Portland.

"In addition to the snow, we’re facing dangerous wind chill," KOIN New 6 Meteorologist Sally Showman said. "This morning several places in the metro have had wind gusts of more than 30 mph. With air temperatures in the 20s, it feels like it’s in the single digits."

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A man walked his dog in the snow at Irving Park's off-leash area Friday morning.A wind advisory continues until Saturday morning in Portland, with a wind chill of minus-5 to minus-15 degrees possible, according to Showman. Gusts could reach 55 miles per hour near the Columbia River Gorge.

Conditions were expected to improve throughout the day, although temperatures may not get above freezing in most of the region.

For more detailed information, visit www.koin.com.

KOIN News 6 contributed to this story.