PORTLAND The City of Portland used the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system for the first time Sunday morning to warn residents after freezing rain blanketed the metro area with ice.

On Saturday evening, the freezing rain paralyzed the city that has already been reeling from three days of snow.

More: Roads to stay frozen into Monday morning in metro area

The system sent a special alert to all WEA-enabled cell phones in Multnomah County. The message read: Portland strongly urges all residents to stay indoors today & not travel due to ice.

The icy condition of sidewalks, in addition to the already slick roads, were key deciding factors in sending out the alert, Transportation Director Leah Treat said.

Sunday s alert was the first time WEA was used by the City of Portland. The system was previously used by the National Weather Service and for Amber Alerts.

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