Sheriffs office urges drivers to stay off roads unless travel is absolutely necessary

by: TIMES PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Traction was a problem for motorists on Thursday near the intersection of Southwest Sixth Street and 149th Avenue in Beaverton.As another new round of snow falls on the Beaverton area, with several more inches of snow, possibly mixed with sleet, likely today (Saturday), businesses that reopened after Thursday's winter storm closed, along with most public agencies, including Beaverton City Hall, city libraries and Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation facilities.

The latest storm pattern comes on the heels of high winds, bone-chilling temperatures and 5 to 8 inches of snow that fell on Thursday and Friday and evening snarling rush-hour traffic and rendering road conditions slick and hazardous throughout the Portland metro area.

Deploying three snowplows equipped with sand-application equipment, and another three trucks pulling sanders, city of Beaverton crews continue to clear and add traction to the city's major arterial routes since Thursday afternoon.

"Frankly, we're doing more sanding than plowing," said Peter Arenello, Beaverton's public works director late Friday morning. "You need several inches of snow on the road for (sand) to be effective. Plowing leaves a thin veneer. It actually smooths it out and makes it more like ice."

The Washington County Sheriff's Office on Friday afternoon issued a strong recommendation that drivers use chains or other traction-control devices on vehicles if travel is necessary.

"The best advice is to not drive unless absolutely necessary," said Sgt. Bob Ray, sheriff's office spokesman. "If you do drive, use traction-control devices. Four-wheel drive does not help much on hills or in braking conditions. Most of the crashes we are responding to involve multiple vehicles attempting hills, many of those vehicles are four-wheel drive."

The sheriff's office and Beaverton Police Department responded to nearly 100 vehicle crashes between Thursday and Friday morning. Only minor injuries were reported, including a Beaverton School District sixth-grader who hurt his knee when a school bus slid into a parked car at 189th Avenue and Bany Road a little after 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel responded to 49 motor vehicle accident calls between noon and 11 p.m. Thursday out of 196 total calls in the district's 210-mile service area in a 24-hour period, said Alisa Cour, TVF&R spokeswoman.

Slippery situations

Starting with light snowfall around noon and escalating through the afternoon, the winter storm closed many businesses and most public facilities early.

City Hall, Beaverton City Library and the Murray-Schools Branch Library reopened on Friday morning, but were all closed by 2 p.m. The park district closed its facilities and canceled all programs and classes at least through Saturday. Both libraries will also be closed Saturday.

Schools in the Beaverton district were closed Friday, and all activities and events scheduled for the weekend are canceled, said Maureen Wheeler, district spokeswoman.

On Friday morning, a car with three occupants slid off the road at the T intersection of 170th Avenue and Bronson Road and into a swampy area. The passengers were uninjured, but needed assistance being pulled out of the car, which was "in a precarious position," said Ray. "They weren't going very fast."

The sheriff's office responded to 50 crash reports, Ray said, while another 40 vehicular crash-related calls went to the Beaverton Police Department, said Officer Jeremy Shaw, a spokesman for the department.

by: WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - A Beaverton School District bus collided into a parked car at the intersection of Southwest 189th Avenue and Bany Road a little after 4 p.m. on Thursday as snow, cold temperatures and high winds made driving conditions treacherous during the evening commute.A Beaverton School District student suffered a knee injury when a school bus with 14 sixth-graders slid sideways as it was going downhill on Southwest 189th Avenue at Bany Road and hit a parked car at the bottom of the hill. The student was transported by a parent to a hospital for treatment.

The crash, in which no was else reported injures, closed the intersection for two and half hours, Ray noted.

A six-car crash with minor injuries was reported at 5:30 p.m. at Bany Road and Southwest 185th Avenue, Cour said. The agency fielded about 70 calls yesterday related to the snowstorm and road conditions, including 49 crashes as well as from those who abandoned their stuck cars or ran out of gas while sitting in gridlocked traffic.

"A lot of people were spinning out and getting stuck," Cour said. "People abandoned their vehicles. I'm sure there were a lot more than the (49 crashes) we had reported."

Stay with your vehicle

Ray noted many people on Thursday were "over driving," being on the road unnecessarily or driving too aggressively for the conditions.

"Especially people with SUVs or four-wheel drives," he said on Friday morning. "They don't realize they're not going to get more traction when they get to a curve or be able to stop in time when they need to. People are overconfident in their abilities or just going too fast. Fortunately, there are fewer people on the road today."

Shaw said most of the crashes reported to Beaverton police on Thursday were fender-benders with passengers receiving only minor injuries. By late Friday morning, as the second round of snow was headed toward Beaverton from the south, emergency calls had returned to normal levels.

"It's really slowed down today," he said. "We're assuming that because everything is closed and people aren't going to work today."

Arenello advised drivers to stay with their cars if they become stuck and not abandon vehicles on any roadway. The city will tow cars abandoned on city streets.

"That's another huge problem we've got," he said. "We can't plow or sand when abandoned cars are in the way. Stay with your car and contact a towing company. That way you're only paying for the tow, and you're not paying for storage (fees)."

Beaverton's public works crews are working around the clock in 12-hour shifts to keep major roads as cleared and sanded as possible.

"We're anticipating staying like that, at least until the weather event ends, which we expect will be sometime Saturday or Sunday," Arenello said.

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