Inclement Weather Operations
When Winter Weather Returns
When winter weather is back, be prepared and help our Oregon City Public Works teams keep the roads safe.
Oregon City Public Works needs your help keeping the roads safe during winter weather events. Snow and ice control operations are intended to provide prudent motorists with a reasonably safe traveling surface. The City does not have a bare pavement policy. During heavy snowfall, or severe icing conditions, motorists may need to install chains or other traction devices. Please be aware, Public Works will only plow snow when it reaches 3 inches of accumulation. In the event of freezing rain, City staff usually apply sand only at hazardous locations such as curves, intersections, railroad crossing and hills. In the event of icing conditions, the City will close steeper roads such as Pearl Street, the Center Street hill, Anchor Way, portions of 12th Street and portions of 15th Street.
If the City receives freezing rain, please consider staying home and off the streets. If you must travel please plan ahead:
- Drive with caution
- Carry traction devices
- Fill your vehicle with fuel
- Carry provisions in your vehicle in case you need to remain in your car for an extended period of time
Please be patient knowing that City crews are doing the best they can to combat hazardous road conditions. The City's Winter Weather Response Plan (PDF) can be viewed here.
Our toolbox is full of goodies for winter weather response. We have added a second de-icer distributor, de-icer storage that exceeds 6,000 gallons and an additional large plow rig. We also have better than ever winter weather staff training and response plans.
For a mid-size city, Oregon City is well equipped for winter weather response with 5 plows, 3 sanders, a road grader, and the 2 de-icer distributors.
For more information on Oregon City's winter weather response including de-icer details, our philosophy on the use of sand in a snow event, and our winter weather response map, check out our Winter Weather Response Map (PDF).
Oregon City Inclement Weather Operations
As part of the City's overall goal to improve the safety of Oregon City's motorists during snow and ice storm events, the City's Street Division use a number of strategies to address the changing conditions that often occur during our winter weather storm events. Our crews utilize liquid de-icer as part of its overall response efforts, in addition to plowing and in some instances, the application of sand.
It is the goal of the City of Oregon City to respond in a reasonable manner to snowy and icy Oregon City streets to allow vehicle travel by motorists, exercising due care, in the operation of a motor vehicle. However, City crews cannot always assure safe vehicle operation on city streets under extremely hazardous winter conditions. As experienced during past winter events, when extremely hazardous conditions exist, it may be necessary for drivers to use traction devices or seek other transportation alternatives.
Remember, even the best preventive measures don't eliminate the risk involved with driving in winter weather conditions. It is always up to motorists to drive at speeds and in a manner appropriate for the road and weather conditions.
Our de-icing efforts focus on the light to moderate snowfall events, as well as the occasional black ice or frost conditions typical for the Oregon City area. Utilizing liquid de-icer allows the Street Division to improve safety, improve the efficiency of City crews, and address environmental conditions resulting from other methods of winter operations. The Street Division's goal is to apply the least amount of de-icer and sand needed to maintain a safe driving surface for Oregon City travelers.
- How will de-icer be used?
Liquid de-icer is applied to the roadway in order to lower the freezing temperature of water and to prevent ice and snow from forming a bond to the roadway surface. The type of de-icer Oregon City is using is called Magnesium Chloride. This product is currently in use by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Clackamas County, and the Cities of West Linn, Happy Valley, and Canby as well as many other jurisdictions in Oregon and Washington. ODOT has been safely using this product for over 10 years.
This product contains 70% water, magnesium chloride, and a corrosion inhibitor to reduce impacts to vehicles. This product can cause corrosion if equipment is exposed for an extended period; however, it is highly water-soluble and a quick rinse will dilute and clean vehicles easily. This product works well at cold temperatures, is inexpensive and is safer on the environment than traditional methods.
Winter de-icer can be used in several ways including:
- A pre-application that helps prevent snow and ice from forming/sticking to street surfaces.
- To melt accumulated snow and ice on street surfaces.
- In conjunction with sand to help the sand stick and stay in place on icy street surfaces.
Areas targeted for de-icer will focus first on arterial streets (Molalla Avenue, Meyers Road, South End Road, etc.), then collector streets (Main Street, Partlow Road, Clairmont Way, etc.), then steeper residential streets. Snow and ice response seldom target residential streets unless the event lasts over an extended period of time (1 week).
- What is the advantage of using de-icer?
One advantage of de-icer is that liquid de-icer can be applied to the roadway a few hours before a severe weather event occurs, which prevents ice crystals from bonding to the pavement. As pavement is kept from freezing, crews can keep key streets ready for traffic rather than responding after Oregon City's road conditions have become dangerous for motorists.
De-icer may also be applied in conjunction with sand under some conditions. The application of de-icer on snow or ice with significant accumulation helps keep the snow loose and "plowable" so it can be removed more easily. The City will use a variety of treatments and techniques to control snow and ice at different times and places throughout Oregon City. A great advantage is that liquid de-icer will help to improve conditions over sanding alone.
Another advantage is that many other jurisdictions that use winter de-icer have had reductions in wintertime vehicle crashes. Additionally, the de-icing product can be less expensive than sanding and is expected to reduce the amount of time spent plowing, sanding, and cleaning up sand after storm events.
- How much snow has to fall before the City responds?
Typically our crews respond when we are reasonably sure that freezing conditions or snow accumulation is likely. Depending upon the forecast and other reports, our crews may apply de-icer in a pre-emptive manner to lessen the impact on drivers, or respond as needed as the cold weather event unfolds. Typically we begin to plow snow as it accumulates to 1 inch or above.