Northwest Oregon recently saw the winter’s first bout of sleet and freezing rain. While the episode lasted only a short time, people stuck on the roads experienced some treacherous conditions and several accidents around the Portland area were reported.
Freezing rain is simply regular rain that freezes instantly upon hitting the surface. It is considered the most dangerous of any winter weather precipitation. Just a tenth of an inch of freezing rain can transform a road into a sheet of ice. The Pacific Northwest, especially the Portland area, is prone to ice storms because cold air pours in through the Columbia River Gorge and can get trapped for long periods of time near the surface when moisture rolls through.
It’s always best to avoid driving in icy conditions whenever possible, but sometimes these storms come without warning and it doesn’t take long for roads to become slick. There are plenty of steps that can be taken to make driving in icy conditions much safer. Here are some good resources, including a video:
Driving in Snow and Ice
The 101 on Driving on Ice (video)