Live updates: About 112k still without power – Statesman Journal

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An ice storm swept through the mid-Willamette Valley Friday night, downing trees and causing widespread power outages.

8:30 p.m.: How to check on outages in your area

About 112,000 customers in the Salem area were still without power Saturday evening. Some areas that had reported power was back on earlier in the afternoon were reporting that they’d again lost power Saturday night.

You can find more detailed information about outages — including how to report an outage or downed wires — through your power company

  • Pacific Power: Roughly 21,000 Pacific Power customers were still without power in the Salem area. More information on outages and how to make a report is here.
  • Portland General Electric: About 88,000 PGE customers were still without power in Marion County. More information, including information about outages in your zip code, is here.
  • Salem Electric: Although the co-op has been able to restore power to about 2,200 members, roughly 3,500 members were still without power as of 5:45 p.m. You can find more information here

5 p.m.: City still clearing trees

Fire, police and public works crews are still responding to fallen trees and debris blocking roads in Salem. There were 86 traffic signals not operating due to power outages, and the city is working on 368 calls about trees, “many of which are impeding roadways, sidewalks, and buildings.”

The Salem Public Library’s curbside service, airport and Salem Health clinics remained closed Saturday due to the storm.

City officials urged Salem residents to stay home and off the roads, and to report road and tree issues to the city’s Public Works Dispatch center at 503-588-6311.

“City crews are focusing efforts on removing fallen trees and limbs from major roadways, pushing debris to the side to make way for traffic,” the city said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “This debris will be removed in the coming days.”

You can follow updates at cityofsalem.net and follow the city on Twitter and Facebook.

And you can report power outages to your power company:

  • Portland General Electric: 1-800-544-1795 or 503-464-7777.
  • Pacific Power: 1-877-508-5088.
  • Salem Electric: 503-362-3601.

4:11 p.m.: Stay home, keep safe

The state’s Office of Emergency Management urges Oregonians in areas waylaid by snowy and icy winter weather to stay home and off the roads “unless absolutely necessary.”

A large number of cell towers have been damaged, making cell and internet communication difficult, so officials recommend using a battery-operated radio to listen for weather updates. Power outages might remain “for some time,” so they also recommend checking on family and neighbors who might need help.

A pedestrian walks their dog along Court Street Northeast on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Salem, Ore.

Nine counties, including Marion and Polk, are in a state of emergency after a declaration by Gov. Kate Brown.

“This is another example of how emergencies can strike at any time, and why we need to be prepared,” Andrew Phelps, the state’s emergency management director, said in a statement. “Our state coordination center is active virtually, and along with state partners, we are leaning forward and stand ready to assist counties as needed.”

For additional assistance, the Office of Emergency Management recommends the following resources:

3:45 p.m.: Small chance of frozen rain 

There is some warmer air in the Eugene area that is expected to push up to the Salem area and prevent another round of ice and freezing rain overnight.

David Elson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, said meteorologists had not “totally ruled out the possibility” of freezing rain overnight Saturday, but the chances of that were pretty low — about 20 percent.

There is a 70 percent chance of rain.

Sunday, high temperatures are expected to be around 35 to 40 degrees, with lows in the upper 30s overnight. Rain is expected to continue off and on through Monday. 

“The worst is almost assuredly” behind the Salem area, Elson said. “There might be a little freezing rain late (Saturday) into early Sunday, but that risk, if there is any, there wouldn’t be much. Comparably, it wouldn’t be much of anything.”

3 p.m.: Help for downed trees

If you have downed trees in your area and need help removing them, call the Salem Public Works dispatch center at 503-588-6311 or email them at [email protected]

City public works crews worked Friday night and early Saturday morning to clear trees out of the roadway. They took a brief break very early Saturday morning when a tree came down very close to a crew clearing another tree, the city’s emergency manager, Greg Walsh, said.

A large tree is uprooted during the ice storm near Bush's Pasture Park on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Salem, Ore.

Walsh said the city had received several reports of house fires and gas leaks.

Cherriots, the Salem area transit service, canceled services on Saturday due to the storm.

2:46 p.m.: Gov declares emergency

Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in nine Oregon counties, including Marion and Polk Counties, due to the snow and ice storms gripping northwest Oregon.

That declaration allows the state’s office of emergency management to activate its emergency operations plan and to use “personnel, equipment, and facilities from other state agencies in order to respond to or mitigate the effects of the weather emergency.”

It also directs the Oregon National Guard, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Transportation and the state’s Public Utility Commission, as well as other state agencies, to help with anything the emergency management office deems necessary.

“The weather that set in yesterday and continued overnight has left extensive damage with hundreds of thousands of Oregonians without power,” Brown said in a written statement. “Because of windstorms, utility crews were not able to safely start work on restoring power until this morning.”

“Crews are out in full force now and are coordinating with local emergency response teams on communications for emergency services, such as warming centers,” Brown said. “I’m committed to making state resources available to ensure crews have the resources they need on the ground.”

1 p.m.: Watch for power lines

As of late Saturday morning, about 142,000 customers in the mid-Willamette Valley were without power, including customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and Salem Electric.

Across the state, more than 260,000 homes were without power.

A severe ice storm can pose challenges to power in a number of ways, said Andrea Platt, a spokesperson for Portland General Electric. About 93,000 of that company’s customers were without power in Marion County around midday Saturday.

Ice can make tree limbs heavier, so they can break, fall and damage equipment like wires, or even poles or substations, Platt said.

“We would just really encourage folks to stay away from any downed or impacted equipment,” Platt said. “It can still be highly conductive even when it’s covered in ice and looks like it may be dormant.”

If you see a downed line, call the power company at 503-464-7777, Platt said. 

11:30 a.m. Outage update

If you are a Portland General Electric customer, the company has an outage map and list of zipcodes that might give you an idea of when your power could come back on.

The company estimated that power may not be restored for everyone until late Sunday. About 1,200 lines have been damaged, and PGE has sent out hundreds of workers to repair damage, Platt said.

Pacific Power said early Saturday morning that outages were affecting about 42,000 of its customers in Oregon. By midday Saturday, about 28,000 Pacific Power customers were without power in the mid-Willamette Valley, from the Salem area down to Corvallis.

About 14,000 of those customers were in the Dallas and Monmouth area, and roughly another 8,000 were in areas east of Salem along Highway 22. Find more detailed outage information at https://www.pacificpower.net/outages-safety.html.

Crews work to restore power to areas of Salem after heavy ice accumulation on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Salem, Ore.

About 230 workers were out assessing the damage as of midday Saturday, a company spokesman said.

“We have dispatched all available crews to make repairs,” Pacific Power said in a tweet Saturday morning. “We encourage customers to plan to be without power throughout the day and into Sunday.”

Salem Electric, a cooperative, estimated at 5:27 a.m. Saturday that about 6,000 customers in West Salem, Keizer and northeast Salem were without power. 

“Crews have been working throughout the night to patrol lines and restore power and will continue to do so until everyone is back on,” Salem Electric said in a statement on its website. “At this time, we cannot speculate about restoration times.”

10:36 a.m.: Stay home, officials say

Roughly 142,000 customers in the mid-Willamette Valley are still without power between people served by Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and Salem Electric.

If you can, try to stay home and avoid driving, as downed trees have created hazards, city officials say.

Don’t call 911 if you have an outage — unless you have critical medical equipment that requires power, said Greg Walsh, emergency manager for the city of Salem.

Instead, you should call your power company to report an outage:

Pacific Power: On the web at PacificPower.net/outage, text OUT to 722797 or call 1-877-508-5088.

Portland General Electric: On the web at PortlandGeneral.com/outages or call 503-464-7777

Salem Electric: On the web at SalemElectric.com or call 503-362-3601.

You can also contact the Public Works dispatch center to report problems with roads at [email protected] or 503-588-6311.

9:10 a.m.: Weather expected to warm above freezing, bringing slow melt

Temperatures in the Willamette Valley are expected to gradually rise above freezing as warmer air arrives from the south today. 

That should begin a gradual melting of the ice that’s currently causing the havoc across the region.  

“It won’t be a rapid melt but we do have warmer air moving up, which should help with repairs and the situation,” National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Bryant said. “Once we get above freezing it should stay above freezing. We could see a little light rain but we don’t expect it to freeze or contribute to the problems.” 

The high temperatures Saturday are expected to reach 41 degrees in Salem and is only expected to drop as low as 39 degrees overnight, which means that any incoming rain isn’t expected to freeze. 

“That’s the good news,” Bryant said. “But obviously there’s a lot of work to do.” 

8:49 a.m.: Power out for 260,000, could stay out all weekend

A massive power outage caused by Friday night’s ice storm has knocked out power to roughly 260,000 homes across the Willamette Valley and northwest Oregon. 

That number includes around 135,000 in Marion and Polk counties, according to numbers provided by Portland General Electric and Pacific Power

There is no specific timeline for restoring power, said officials, who asked people to “be prepared to be without power through the weekend,” PGE spokeswoman Elizabeth Lattanner said. 

“We certainly understand that it’s not a great situation and we’re doing everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible, but with the amount of ice and downed trees, there are a lot of individual outages,” she said. “Obviously it’s all hands on deck for us and we have more than 600 technicians out in the field right now working as quickly as they can.”  

Power Outage Map

Power Outage Map

Numerous roads and highways across Oregon are closed, including many in Salem, City officials said. 

“Salem crews have reported that hundreds of trees are down and blocking major and smaller roadways across the city,” the City said in a Facebook post. “Salem residents are advised to please stay home and safe as City crews work to remove these hazards.

“Do not approach or touch power lines. Outdoor conditions remain hazardous, use extra caution if going outdoors.” 

8:28 a.m.: Hazards on roads

The Oregon Department of Transportation has received reports — some confirmed and some not — of downed power lines and vegetation on several roads in the Salem area, including reports of debris on Oregon Routes 22, 214 and 221.

“Driving conditions remain treacherous throughout much of northwest Oregon this morning,” the department said in a news release Saturday. “Downed trees, powerlines and ice have closed many roads. Avoid travel if possible. Expect delays, extended road closures, and plan for alternate routes. Be ready for rapidly changing conditions.”

You can view a list of specific road conditions in the Salem area here, and a map of them at www.tripcheck.com.

8:13 a.m.: Cherriots suspends service

Cherriots Local, Regional, LIFT and Shop and Ride services are all suspended Saturday, Feb. 13 owing to the ice storm.

“Road conditions are extremely dangerous with downed trees and power lines,” Cherriots said in a tweet Saturday morning. “Please stay safe at home.”

Service will resume Tuesday.

7:33 a.m.: Trees down, blocking roads

Hundreds of trees are down across the city, blocking small and major roads, due to the ice storm, according to the City of Salem.

“Salem residents are advised to please stay home and safe as city crews work to remove these hazards,” the city said in a press statement. “Do not approach or touch power lines. Outdoor conditions remain hazardous, use extra caution if going outdoors.”

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“Restoring power outages in these types of storm events will take time,” the city said in a statement. “Utility providers and the City appreciate your patience as crews respond.”

7:30 a.m.: Salem Health vaccine clinics canceled

Vaccine clinics at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center and Salem Health Medical Clinic in Woodburn are canceled today, Feb. 13, “due to inclement weather that has caused power outages and unsafe conditions,” according to Salem Health.

If you have an appointment scheduled for today at either location, go to www.salemhealth.org/vaccine for information on how to reschedule your appointment.

6:30 a.m.: 135k without power

More than 135,000 across the Mid-Willamette Valley were without power Saturday morning. 

About 97,000 Portland General Electric customers and 36,800 Pacific Power customers were without power in Marion County. There were no clear estimates about when the power may be restored. 

Officials from both companies say crews will be working as conditions allow to restore service.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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Alia Beard Rau is the senior news editor for the Salem Statesman Journal. Reach her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @aliarau

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