The Latest: Portland mayor defends storm response

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Posted: Dec 15, 2016 6:31 PM
The Latest: Portland mayor defends storm response

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on the snowy weather in Oregon (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

Portland's mayor is defending how the city responded to a winter storm that brought traffic to a standstill for several hours on Wednesday as commuters left work en masse.

Mayor Charlie Hales told KGW-TV on Thursday that city crews were prepared for the storm but there are many people who don't have a lot of practice driving in snow.

KGW said it had been contacted by many residents who criticized city and state agencies for what they viewed as a haphazard response.

Hales told KGW that people should not have assumed that they would be able to drive home when snow was in the forecast.

Hales talked with KGW for a program to be broadcast on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Portland extended the grace period for not ticketing cars abandoned in downtown metered spots to 8 a.m. Friday.

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9:35 a.m.

Heavy snow was making for difficult driving in eastern Washington on Thursday morning.

Schools in the Tri-Cities region of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco were closed, while schools in Spokane and Yakima delayed opening.

The Washington State Patrol reported multiple crashes on Interstate 90 through the city of Spokane. Spokane had six sanding trucks and 15 deicers working the streets Thursday morning.

The State Patrol also reported a fatal crash involving a semi-truck and two cars in Whitman County on U.S. 195 early Thursday morning.

While Spokane International Airport reported it received 1 inch of snow as of 4 a.m. Thursday, the town of Palouse to the south received about 4 inches.

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9:05 a.m.

The National Weather Service says the snow on the ground in Oregon won't be melting quickly.

Meteorologist Colby Neuman says temperatures in the Portland area might rise barely above freezing Thursday, but only for an hour or two. And the city might not see 40 degrees for several days.

Extremely cold temperatures are expected through Saturday in central and eastern Oregon.

Though it caused havoc with Wednesday's commute, only 1-to-3 inches of snow fell in the Portland metropolitan area. Some cities east of the Cascades got up to a foot or more.

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7:30 a.m.

Be sure to check the status of your flight before making the trip to Portland International Airport on Thursday.

Only a few flights have been canceled or delayed as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, and some of those were arrivals from cities in Oregon that got more snow or ice than Portland.

Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simonds says maintenance and snow-removal teams worked through the night and things are looking pretty good.

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7:05 a.m.

Many drivers in the Portland metro area will be looking for their cars Thursday after hundreds abandoned their vehicles in a traffic nightmare caused by a couple inches of snow.

The snow started Wednesday not long before the afternoon commute. With everyone leaving at the same time, motorists got caught in hours-long jams.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton warned that vehicles left on main roads will be towed.

The morning commute will be an icy one, but should be smoother than Wednesday evening's because schools and some businesses are closed.

More than 100 miles south of Portland, a major ice storm knocked out power to thousand customers in Lane and Douglas counties. In central Oregon, some cities got a foot or more of snow.