Freezing rain leads to power outages, road closures around Clark County


Police are also investigating a car that drove off of the I-205 bridge between Vancouver and Portland on Sunday afternoon

CLARK COUNTY — UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: WSDOT has re-opened SR-14 from Evergreen Blvd. east of Washougal to the Hood River Bridge to all vehicles. Approved traction tires are required. Vehicles over 10,000 GVW are required to have chains.

The thaw is underway, but not before Mother Nature brought a final nasty surprise for thousands of people in Clark County.

Freezing rain coated trees in Woodland and many other parts of Clark County overnight. Photo by Mike Schultz
Freezing rain coated trees in Woodland and many other parts of Clark County overnight. Photo by Mike Schultz

An Ice Storm Warning issued by the National Weather Service for much of the Portland-metro area on Sunday expired early this morning, but thousands of people were left without power by the time the worst had passed.

As of 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Clark Public Utilities was reporting just over 7,000 people still without power, down from a high of nearly 17,000 overnight.

Clark Public Utilities crews have been scrambling to get power back on for thousands of people this morning. Image courtesy Clark Public Utilities
Clark Public Utilities crews have been scrambling to get power back on for thousands of people this morning. Image courtesy Clark Public Utilities

The largest of those outages was impacting nearly 1,500 people in the Felida and Hazel Dell areas, while another 1,200 were without power near Yacolt.

In Ridgefield and Vancouver people reported seeing bright flashes in the sky as limbs, broken by the weight of gathering ice, fell onto power lines, causing transformers to explode. 

In Woodland, trees and limbs were brought down by at least a quarter-inch of ice that built up overnight.

Freezing rain helped to bring down this tree overnight in Woodland. Photo by Mike Schultz
Freezing rain helped to bring down this tree overnight in Woodland. Photo by Mike Schultz

Icy conditions also likely contributed to a tragic incident on the Glen Jackson Bridge along I-205. Portland Police said they received reports of a southbound vehicle going over the guardrail somewhere between the Oregon – Washington border and Government Island just after 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, likely landing in the Columbia River below.

As of Monday morning, a multi-agency response continued to search the area with boats and dive teams. There was no word as of this writing about the fate of the driver or any passengers.

Icy conditions were worst in east and north Clark County. On Monday morning, WSDOT again closed all lanes of SR-14 from Evergreen Blvd. east of Washougal out to the Hood River Bridge due to treacherous travel conditions. By 10:30 on Monday the highway had reopened, but traction tires are required, or chains for any vehicles over 10,000 GVW.

Treacherous conditions prompted WSDOT to re-close SR-14 to all traffic from east of Washougal to the Hood River Bridge on Monday. Image courtesy WSDOT
Treacherous conditions prompted WSDOT to re-close SR-14 to all traffic from east of Washougal to the Hood River Bridge on Monday. Image courtesy WSDOT

Clark County Public Works also shut down SE 347th Street between Lawton Road and Jennings Road in Washougal due to ice and snow on the roads. Some parts of the road had snow drifts up to eight feet high due to blowing snow.

As of Monday, the county expected that quarter-mile stretch of road would likely remain closed until Tuesday morning, as areas near the Gorge are expected to remain frozen longer.

Even in areas not hit by freezing rain, officials remind people to use extreme caution. Packed snow can lead to dangerous driving conditions, and even localized flooding as rain and melting snow build up in the ruts along roads, especially side roads that haven’t been treated or plowed.

SR-14 at Cape Horn was a sheet of ice Monday morning. Image courtesy WSDOT
SR-14 at Cape Horn was a sheet of ice Monday morning. Image courtesy WSDOT

The dangerous conditions also prompted Waste Connections to cancel all trash pick-up for Monday. That means they’ll be operating on a one-day delay this week, so if you normally set your cans out on Tuesday, it will be on Wednesday this week, and so on. Anyone who had their pick-up canceled last week can set out extra bags around their cans without penalty.

The National Weather Service in Portland says the temperature for most people should warm into the mid-40s today, and remain above freezing for the foreseeable future. Areas east of Camas could remain frozen slightly longer, though the entire area should be above freezing by later tonight and especially on Tuesday.

There were no school cancelations on Monday, since it is President’s Day, which is a federal holiday.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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