HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Winds were extremely powerful in the Gorge, reaching 101 mph on Thursday and carrying the continued threat of freezing rain.
As of early Friday morning there were no reports of freezing rain in the Gorge or in East Portland or Troutdale, but the threat still remained, according to KGW Meteorologist NIck Allard. "The good news is, we're really just talking about just rain for the Metro area, with the freezing rain potential staying into the Gorge. Winds will still be gusty, but not as bad as yesterday," he said.
Some pedestrians said significant wind gusts blew them sideways in NE Portland early Thursday afternoon and in the Corbett area. KGW Reporter Keely Chalmers was literally blown over while videotaping part of her story for the evening newscasts. She was working at Crown Point, along Historic Highway 30, where winds were recorded at 101 miles an hour.
Images: Bowled over by wind
More: Northwest winds map
Allard said HD Doppler radar showed a great deal of rain moving into the region. However, temperatures remained above freezing in the valleys. The Gorge and the mountains were a different story.
“Cold air in the Gorge will cause freezing rain to form from about Multnomah Falls to Cascade Locks, and sleet and freezing rain from Cascade Locks eastward.,” he explained. “If the cold air hangs in through Saturday, there may be significant icing in the Gorge around Hood River.” More: Gorge forecast | 7-day forecast | KGW weather coverage
State and City of Portland: 'Prepared for anything'
The Oregon Department of Transportation was not taking any chances that could leave them scrambling - like when the late December surprise storm that blanketed Portland in five inches of snow, snarling interstates, stranding vehicles and leaving many frustrated and stuck in the cold.
"We don't want to take any chances after what happened," said ODOT regional manager Jason Tell. Gorge and eastern metro residents were urged to fill up their gas tanks in the event they were stranded. For its part, extra crews were working along Interstate 84, Hwy 26 and elsewhere Friday morning, Tell said.
TriMet also got prepared early, chaining up about 40 buses Thursday night and bringing in extra overnight crews to monitor MAX lines for potential freeze-ups. At 3 a.m., TriMet crews scouted the Hillsboro and Troutdale areas for any potential ice on roadways and sanding truck operators were put on standby.
KGW forecasters predicted changes in the weather system over the weekend and into the following week. "Rain will end on Saturday afternoon, and the rest of the weekend will be dry. You will have to wait for the fog to clear Sunday morning before we see any afternoon sun. Look for rainy and potentially windy weather early next week," Allard added.