Snow reflections: Some fun, a few headaches
Well, that was fun.
Early last week, the fact that a snowstorm was coming was sufficiently predicted (and hyped at times, as usual) in local television newscasts but when the snowfall came it still seemed to catch many people by surprise. On Thursday afternoon, there was an instant exodus of people leaving their jobs early, as well as a parade of school buses filled with youngsters headed home after being released from area schools earlier than usual because of deteriorating conditions.
On Thursday afternoon in Forest Grove, for example, for several hours there was a non-stop line of traffic slowly making its way up Pacific Avenue as people headed out.
Unfortunately, many motorists or more accurately, their cars were clearly not prepared for snowy weather. We observed numerous cars slipping sideways down the road, as their tires spun furiously, finding no traction.
Its wise to just stay home rather than be out in snowy, icy weather especially if your rig does not have four-wheel drive or chains and by Friday, most area residents were playing it smart and safe by not being on the roads. Schools were closed all day Friday as well as Monday, and that helped by keeping traffic lighter than normal.
But the entire weekend was rough for emergency responders. According to a spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department, there were 25 motor vehicle accidents on Thursday and another 15 on Friday mostly fender-benders, and luckily no one was reported to be seriously hurt in any of them.
One simple thing drivers can do to when the weather turns nasty is to turn on your headlights. Its such a simple precaution, and we continue to be astounded by the foolishness of some drivers who fail to do this and suddenly out of the blowing snow they appear, increasing the risk of an accident for themselves as well as others. For those who drive around in heavy snow or foggy conditions with their lights off, we just shake our heads, as they never seem to learn.
Given the rough conditions over several days, we appreciated that TriMets buses and trains mostly kept running. Rather than take a chance of driving and getting stuck somewhere, many people wisely wanted to turn to mass transit at a time when the transit agency was heavily impacted by the conditions. Buses required chains, which limited their speeds, and ice and snow clogged switches for the light rail network, requiring crews to go out and stand by to throw switches for MAX trains by hand at numerous locations. Finally, on Sunday the onslaught of bad weather forced suspension of service for a few hours, but the solid efforts of TriMet personnel kept this lapse in operations to a minimum.
We appreciated the public works employees who drove plow trucks around the clock in 12-hour shifts to keep the roads passable as much as possible, and we appreciated the efforts of the areas law enforcement agencies in having to deal with numerous accidents and other emergencies.
We also appreciated seeing business owners around the downtown areas of Hillsboro and Forest Grove who went out with shovels or brooms and with salt, sand or kitty litter to spread on sidewalks to keep the areas around their shops safer for pedestrians.
The snow, at least for the first couple days, was too dry to build snowmen, but by Sunday we enjoyed seeing the work of those who built igloos or statues or walls of snow. Its always good to see people taking what might be considered a difficult situation and doing something creative and fun with it.
Speaking of fun, we noticed some skateboarding parks were instantly transformed into sled runs, and youngsters flocked to even small hills around the area to enjoy a rare opportunity for some local sledding.
Its mid-February, and school kids got an unexpected break because of the snow two school days off. Because its so late in the season, that was probably the last significant snowfall well see this winter, and it was nice that it stayed around for a few days. Too often, we have an overnight or morning snowfall that is gone by the end of the day as our notorious rains come in.
So if that was the last of it for this winter, it was nice we had four days to get out and enjoy it and it looks like most people did just that.
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