By News-Register staff • 

Ice storm warning now in effect

With an ice storm warning in effect for today until noon tomorrow, Yamhill County Public Works Director Mark Lago suggests that residents plan carefully.

“It would make sense to get out and do what you need to do this afternoon and then hunker down until is over, which could be tomorrow,” Lago told the News-Register.

Temperatures were at 30 degrees this afternoon at the McMinnville airport.

Freezing rain, Lago noted, is much harder for road crews to address than snow, which can be plowed away, or offset with de-icer, sand or gravel, and staying off the roads when they are icy is the safest option.

Two Public Works crews have been working in 12-hour shifts since yesterday to put de-icer on the roads, Lago said, and the crews pride themselves on knowing the terrain of the entire county, and keeping roads clear.

Matters are complicated by the county’s diverse terrain, which Lago noted encompasses 13 different elevations.

“You’re down here in the city and then you go up to Bald Peak, it’s two climates almost,” Lago said.

But he said, he has an experienced crew that knows when icy conditions are likely to be hitting the county’s highest elevations, even when things look fine in the valley, and they make their plans accordingly.

Another complication is that to apply de-icer ahead of time requires dry pavement, he said. If roads are already wet, as they were yesterday, crews have to apply the de-icer on top of the layer of ice to break it up.

“So of course, in these events, you’re always asking for it to snow versus freezing rain. You can handle moving snow around,” Lago said. “Ice is hard to control; it doesn’t matter if it’s an inch or a quarter inch. … and putting down sand or gravel is like throwing marbles on a hardwood floor; it doesn’t really do much.”

Freezing rain falling on wet pavement caused some traffic crashes Thursday night, he said.

“Last night some of the public wanted to go up to Bald Peak maybe to see if it was snowing. We had a few cars in ditches that even the tow truck couldn’t get to because it was icy, so they had to wait for us to get de-icer down, and sand and gravel.

So we had quite a laundry list things to do last night between 8 and 10 or 12 o’clock.”

This morning, he said, seemed to go a little better.

“This morning was a little dicey, but thank goodness I think what helped was the Friday before a three-day weekend and most people are not commuting.”

As of this afternoon, Lago said, the storm had not caused many problems with falling trees, possibly because some of the most vulnerable had already come down.

“If we didn’t have the rain event three or four weeks ago with all the trees coming down, then I think we would have had a lot of trees coming down,” he said.

The forecast says that freezing rain is expected to start this evening. It calls for temperatures to drop down into the mid-20s tonight, with freezing rain falling, and possible ice accumulations of up to .6 of an inch.

Tomorrow morning it calls for freezing rain, possibly mixed with snow, that may accumulate more ice.

Forecasters warn that, while temperatures may rise into the mid to upper 30s in Marion and Clackamas counties, they are expected to remain cold locally.

Temperatures should warm above freezing Saturday, but only minimally above freezing across northern Polk and Yamhill Counties,” the Portland office of the National Weather Service warned.

There is another chance of more freezing rain Saturday night, however, before turning back into rain on Sunday.



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