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Storm keeps its icy grip on Portland-metro area; Kotek declares statewide emergency

The freezing rain and temperatures aren’t done with us yet, especially if you live east of Interstate 205 and in the Columbia River Gorge.

Gov. Tina Kotek late Thursday night declared a statewide emergency because of the ice storm. Her office said it will help the state gain access to federal resources to respond to the storm and to recover from it.

“Thousands of people across the state have been impacted by the storm, including power outages, lack of transportation, and an array of safety concerns that come with severe weather,” Kotek said in a news release. “The state has been working with counties as they assess needs, including critical federal resources that can be unlocked by a statewide emergency. I declared a state of emergency in Lane County on Tuesday, and now we are heeding the call from additional counties to escalate.”

Some freezing rain fell in all areas in the Portland-metro area Thursday after the major storms that started Saturday coated everything with snow and ice. But areas in the east part of town and in the gorge saw a lot more.

Cold air blowing out of the gorge has kept Portland from significantly warming up, even after areas south of the city did so.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, KATU Meteorologist Dave Salesky said it would be at least another 24 hours before Portland and the gorge would see significant warming and finally emerge from their icy depths.

But before the cold air from the gorge shuts down, temperatures in the Portland-metro area were expected to remain cold overnight Thursday, bringing with it the possibility of more freezing rain. That meant there could be more downed trees, power lines and power outages, bringing more problems to an already crippled region.

“We have rain and freezing rain again in the forecast,” said Salesky. “The good news is, we get through tomorrow and we do have milder weather and wetter weather on the way as we head in towards the weekend.”

Early Thursday evening things were icing up again in Portland. The low temperature was expected to be 31 degrees, one degree below freezing.

Interstate 84 was open Thursday after it closed for around 30 hours shortly before the storm hit Tuesday. But drivers should expect significant delays.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Portland area, the northern part of the Coast Range and southwest Washington until Friday at 10 a.m. An Ice Storm Warning was in effect for the western portion of the gorge until the same time.

As the temperatures drop, Salesky said drivers should expect icy roads and areas of freezing rain Friday morning.

Several school districts Thursday were delaying or canceling school for Friday, which included Portland Public Schools, which announced there would be no school. Check the full closure list here.

TriMet once again shut down MAX Blue Line service, leaving the area without MAX train service. Shuttle buses were serving MAX customers, but TriMet said shuttle buses were limited.

TriMet encouraged riders to check trimet.org/alerts for the latest information.

Health officials in Multnomah County reported 166 visits to emergency departments relating to falls Wednesday. That’s the highest total for a single day since 2016.

They recommend staying indoors if you can. If not, be sure to wear shoes with traction and a heavy coat for cushioning if you fall. And don’t forget bright or reflective gear.

There have been at least a dozen deaths linked to this historic storm.

On Saturday, a woman was killed when a tree fell onto an RV in Southeast Portland and caught fire.

In Lake Oswego, a man was killed when a large tree fell onto his house.

On Sunday, two women were killed in a fire at a Northeast Portland church.

There have also been five suspected hypothermia deaths, four in Multnomah County and one in Washington County.

And three people were killed when a live power line fell on their car and electrocuted them when they got out to try to get to safety. A baby survived, rescued by a brave 18-year-old woman.

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