Overnight, Wilsonville transformed into giant snow globe
Jack Frost was at it again. Sleet and freezing rain the evening of Jan. 10 transitioned to fluffy flakes and began to blanket Wilsonville by the early hours of Jan. 11. By dawn, up to five inches had fallen in some areas around the city, causing schools and many public facilities to announce closures. Contrary to initial reports of the winter wonderland melting and the City returning to business as usual by Friday Jan. 14, the frozen slick lasted over the weekend and into the following week.
As of 5:46 a.m., Jan. 11, the Oregon Department of Transportation required chains on all vehicles along Interstate 5 in the region. At the Les Schwab Tire Center at Town Center Loop, employee Ben Friesen said that although the location was "totally swamped" with people coming in to get chains, they had plenty in stock for all tire sizes.
Cassandra Ulven from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVF&R) said that, unlike some neighboring cities, weather related incidents were minimal in Wilsonville and that most calls were related to downed wires and trees and minor traffic accidents.
"We haven't seen a significant call volume increase," Ulven said. "I think that most people heeded the warnings and stayed home."
Many in town decided to forego travel altogether and stayed to embrace the snow day. Families filled Memorial Park with sledding tracks and laughter as the afternoon wore on. Children enjoyed their fifth day of missed school during the 2016-2017 school year. However by 2 p.m., the snow was melting on most of the main roads and I-5 and ODOT removed the chain requirement for all vehicles.
For those who still wanted to travel but also play it safe by relying on public transit, South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART) was running only in-town routes due to slick conditions and delays. TriMet was in a similar boat and advised that bus and rail lines were running on limited service and to expect "major delays," including on the WES line due to a fallen tree on the tracks.
During the early hours of Jan. 12, ODOT reduced its road condition assessment to "ice debris on roadways" with main thoroughfares in the city being clear enough to drive without chains or specialty tires. Sidestreets and addresses at elevation were another story, boasting thick sheets of slick packed snow and ice.
The ice decided to refreeze and stick around before finally calling it quits by mid-week. By Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District had racked up three days off — out of the nine days that school was scheduled to be in session since the end of winter break — and government offices in Wilsonville and Clackamas County missed three full business days.