Are you “Winter Ready?”
Preparing for winter conditions early can help prevent unforeseen outcomes when severe weather conditions hit the Gorge. The objective is for everyone to stay safe and work as neighbors to keep the City functioning during inclement weather. It’s especially important that property owners or tenants understand they are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks around properties for safe pedestrian travel.
Winter Weather Driving Safety Measures
–A Message from Police Chief Neal Holste
- SLOW DOWN! The number one common error for winter driving is driving too fast for the weather conditions. With vehicle manufacturers creating better handling vehicles, all-wheel-drive (AWD) and other traction technology, drivers can become over confident behind the wheel. This technology may be great for the plowing through snow and ice, but does little to nothing for steering and braking when driving too fast for conditions.
- Keep plenty of distance to other vehicles. Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you is linked with driving too fast. A general rule for “good” driving conditions is to leave a minimum of one car length for every 10mph speed between you and the car you follow. With snow and ice on roadways, drivers should increase that recommended distance.
- Less is best when it comes to braking on snow and/or icy roads. Many drivers instinctively slam on their brakes when vehicle tires break loose from the road surface and slide. Hard braking and abrupt steering wheel maneuvers are not your best options for vehicle tire sliding. These maneuvers will cause a vehicle to continue on its skidding path. Your best choice is to let off the gas pedal, and slowly steer into the skid. Stay calm and apply very light braking.
BE PREPARED… Be patient and allow plenty of time to get to destinations so you do not have to rush. And have traction devices such as tire chains and/or winter type snow tires available.
Preparation includes planning for winter transportation, whether by vehicle or foot. Winter footwear with treaded outsoles help prevent pedestrians from slipping. Vehicles are winter ready when windshield wipers work well and vehicles are equipped with proper traction devices. Extra precautions include keeping ice scrapers, roadside emergency kits, a small snow shovel, plus warm coats, hats and gloves in the vehicle. Be sure headlights stay clear of snow during storms.
Once winter season begins, streets could become snow-covered, making automobile travel more challenging or even impossible. “During these times, keep in mind City public works staff is responsible for maintaining over 62 miles of streets within the City limits — a distance that stretches from Hood River to downtown Portland.” Director of Public Works Mark Lago relays. “During snow events, it may not always be possible to clear all City streets.”
Snow plowing and sanding usually occur once snow build-up exceeds three inches. It’s recommended to stay informed of weather forecasts and move vehicles off-street when necessary so public works crews can clear streets safely and efficiently. City ordinance allows parking only on the south and west sides of all streets to facilitate efficient snow removal. (To help remember, imagine being in the warm SOUTH-WEST – that’s where vehicles belong.) No parking is allowed on primary streets at certain hours (see below). Vehicles parked in violation of restrictions may be towed, and at the owner’s expense.
City streets prioritized for snow and ice control operations are based on overall traffic circulation, emergency services, terrain slope, business and residential needs, and other variables. These roads are also subject to re-plow “high priority” in the event of heavy snowfall, before plowing lower priority residential streets. Depending on the severity of a storm, the City reserves the right to leave lower priority, non-arterial streets untouched for up to 72 hours following the storm in order to facilitate cleanup in priority areas.
Primary streets include:
Downtown Area – during heavy snow events, no parking allowed on either side of streets between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- Oak St between Front and 7th
- Front Street
- 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Streets between State and Columbia
Heights Area – during heavy snow events, no parking allowed on either side of streets between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- 13th Street between Oak St and Belmont Ave
- 12th Street between May St and Belmont Ave
- Belmont Ave, A, B, C Streets and Taylor Ave between 12th and 13th
Snow Plow Priority Map
Now is also the time to finalize preventive maintenance at your home or business. A few recommended measures include turning off exterior water to prevent pipe freezing, bursting and causing unsafe conditions; clearing gutters to prevent overflows that could damage property or create sidewalk or road hazards; making sure snow shovels and winter garments are in good repair and accessible, and that snow blowers are operational.
Hood River County runs local emergency preparedness efforts. The agency leverages and supports all local response agencies, and is the direct link for accessing regional, state and federal support. Get GORGE Ready disaster preparedness guide is available online.
Citizen Etiquette with street snow clearing / sanding:
- Watch weather forecasts. – Move vehicles off-street during winter storms to enable public works crews to work safely and efficiently in clearing streets.
- Give plows and sanding trucks room to maneuver – do not follow closely.
- Do not pass trucks when snow is being plowed or sand applied.
- Stay clear of intersections when snowplow trucks are approaching.
- Do not shovel or place snow and ice in the streets at any time.
Property Owner and Tenant Responsibilities:
- Blocked Driveways – driveways will likely be blocked during plowing operations. Residents are responsible for clearing this snow. Public Works staff regret this inconvenience but have limited equipment and staff hours to clear all the City’s streets.
- Sidewalks – Property owners or tenants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to property within a reasonable timeframe, usually 48 hours. Following a melted snow event, public works crews routinely sweep excess sand from streets. Residents and business owners must sweep excess sand that’s accumulated on sidewalks into streets for street sweepers to pick up.
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