Portland, Ore. — After enduring five days of winter storms and bitter cold, Portland is finally seeing relief from Tuesday’s ice storm. Temperatures across the region are expected to climb well above freezing by Wednesday afternoon, bringing an end to the icy conditions that gripped the city.
According to KGW meteorologist Rod Hill, the duration of the thaw will vary across different parts of the metro area. Areas at the east end of Multnomah County are anticipated to be the last to break free from the ice. While Hill couldn’t pinpoint an exact timeframe for the thaw, he mentioned that most areas, away from the strongest east winds from the Gorge, have a good chance of being above freezing by noon on Wednesday.
The frigid conditions of the past week were a result of east winds channeling arctic air through the Columbia River Gorge, saturating the Willamette Valley. A band of warmer air moved north on Tuesday afternoon, displacing the east winds and raising temperatures. However, it also brought rain, which turned into freezing rain due to the chilly temperatures at ground level.
Hill explained that the east winds are gradually retreating back into the Gorge, making Portland the last part of the valley to rise above freezing. The eastern end of the metro area will lag behind the rest of the city in thawing out.
Meteorologist Chris McGinness from KGW noted that the existing ice on the ground won’t instantly disappear when temperatures hit 33 degrees, but it should melt off fairly quickly.
Regardless of the exact timing, Portland temperatures are expected to reach around 40 degrees in the afternoon. Hill mentioned that temperatures further south could rise even faster if south winds pick up during the day.
While the city anticipates a thaw, the Gorge itself will remain frozen throughout the day. The Oregon Department of Transportation has already announced that reopening Interstate 84 from Troutdale to Hood River is unlikely on Wednesday due to continued icy conditions on the freeway. The situation remains a “wait-and-see” as residents eagerly await the return to more favorable weather conditions.