Dreaming of an Ice Christmas? Officials Warn of Freezing Temps, Winter Weather

Officials have issued an “urgent weather warning” for Canby and the surrounding areas in the days leading up to the Christmas holiday, which are expected to deliver possible snow and ice — and the coldest temperatures northwest Oregon has seen in nearly a decade.

Temperatures are expected to plunge into the low teens or colder Wednesday night and stay cold through at least Friday morning.

Thursday morning will “likely [bring] the coldest temperatures since 2014,” according to the National Weather Service, with lows of a chilly 13 degrees Fahrenheit predicted in Portland and a frigid 9 degrees in Hillsboro.

Low temperatures of at least 10 degrees below freezing were predicted throughout the Willamette Valley and westward.

“Prepare now to protect people, pets and livestock, and plants,” the NWS advisory warned. “Have your emergency kit ready.”

Beyond the cold itself, impacts of the wintry forecast could be “significant icing,” with total ice accumulation of up to half and inch predicted. The icing could damage trees, bring down power lines and make area roads dangerous for commuters and those planning holiday travel.

As a proactive measure, the Clackamas County road crews began 24-hour emergency coverage starting at 4 a.m. Wednesday, December 21, with four anti-icing trucks pretreating emergency routes around the clock.

As the storm moves in, the county said its staff will work around the clock to de-ice and plow roads, respond to any debris in the roadway and otherwise work to keep streets open and safe.

“If you’re driving in the Mount Hood area, do not park along county roads,” county officials advised in a news release. “Roads are narrow, and parked vehicles can make it impossible for plows or emergency vehicles to access the roads.”

With thermometer readings plunging into dangerous territory, five overnight warming shelters will be open throughout Clackamas County, including in Canby at Zoar Lutheran Church, 190 Southwest 3rd Avenue, from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. A meal will be offered after church activities.

Dogs on leash and small pets in carriers are welcome, but confirm with staff. For information, call 503-266-4061.

Shelters are also available at the Molalla Hope Center, 209 Kennel Avenue, and the Father’s Heart Street Ministry in Oregon City, 603 12th Street, call 503-722-9780.

The Canby Public Library, 220 Northeast 2nd Avenue, is also available as a daytime warming center during normal business hours, whenever temperatures reach 35 degrees or lower for a maximum stay of two hours.

For a complete list of daytime warming centers and other information, visit clackamas.us/relief.

On Wednesday morning, Canby Mayor Brian Hodson warned of the wintry weather forecasts and urged those who are able to consider volunteering at the Zoar shelter.

“If you are feeling inclined, please reach out to them and help,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is an incredible community service they provide. Thank you in advance! Merry Christmas!”

Other tips and precautions from the county include staying warm inside your home by only using heaters specifically built for indoor use. Do not use outdoor heaters, portable generators, barbecues or your oven to heat the inside of your home because carbon monoxide can kill.

For information related to possible power outages, check with Portland General Electric or Canby Utility on their respective websites.

For its part, PGE sent a message to customers Wednesday advising that its meteorologists were “keeping a close eye on weather conditions, while wire-down and damage assessment crews … are preparing to mobilize quickly for potential restoration efforts.”

PGE prepares for storms year-round by inspecting equipment and trimming trees, the utility said, but still advised residents to be prepared for the possibility of outages.

Protect your plumbing, both indoors and outdoors, to avoid the risk of bursting water pipes since sub-freezing temperatures are expected, and pack an emergency kit with all of the essentials if you plan to drive, but stay home if you can.

Be aware that garbage and recycling pickups may be delayed in some areas due to weather conditions. Garbage collection is the priority; please only set out full recycling and yard debris containers.

Finally, residents are advised to sign up for emergency messaging from Public Alerts at www.clackamas.us/dm so you can receive critical emergency messages.

On Thursday, the county announced its offices would close at 3 p.m. and remain closed Friday due to weather. The penultimate evening of the Clackamas County Winter Fair and Holiday Market was also canceled Thursday due to frigid temperatures and the forecast of freezing rain.

Fairgrounds officials still hoped to hold the final night of the winter fair, scheduled for Friday, December 23, depending on the weather.

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