July 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

City prepares for possible ice storm, snow over MLK weekend

4 min read
The National Weather Service says power outages and tree damage are likely. Residents are encouraged to stock up on supplies and to reduce travel as much as possible when roads are icy or snowy.
Winter Storm Watch

from Eugene Public Works Department and staff reports

A winter storm watch is in effect for the Eugene-Springfield area from Friday afternoon through late Saturday night, as the National Weather Service warns that we could be in for another ice storm.

Temperatures are predicted to drop into the 20s, with rain expected to change to freezing rain and snow the night of Friday, Jan. 12 through Saturday, Jan. 13. The forecast warns that heavy mixed precipitation is possible, with total snow accumulations of one to six inches and ice accumulations of up to one-half inch.

“Power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice. Travel could be difficult,” the alert states.

An update from Lane County warned that significant icing is expected, and that the hazardous conditions could affect the Friday evening commute.

Lane County released an updated list of warming centers that are available during the day. Egan Warming Centers are activated for Saturday, Jan. 13 and are on standby for Sunday and Monday. The following warming center sites will be activated:

  • Springfield Memorial Building, 765 A St., Springfield. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
  • Transportation Hub at First Christian Church, 1166 Oak St., Eugene. Shuttles run from 6 p.m. to midnight.
  • Trinity United Methodist Church, 440 Maxwell Rd., Eugene. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
  • South Hills at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 3925 Hilyard St., Eugene. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
  • Wheeler Pavilion at Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave., Eugene. Doors open 10 p.m. (note late opening)

All Egan Warming Center sites for this activation are accessible and animals are welcome.

The city of Eugene announced suspension of unsanctioned camp posting and removal (“sweeps”) from Jan. 12 through Jan. 16, in accordance with what the Eugene Human Rights Commission calls the “lethal weather” protocol and the city calls the “winter weather” protocol.

However, the city noted that in some circumstances “individuals may be required to move from public spaces during these weather events, for exigent safety, sanitation or access reasons; or related to law enforcement concerns other than violations of the unsanctioned camping ordinance.”

As with any weather event, housed community members are advised to stock up on food, medications, pet supplies, and other necessities in case you need to stay at home for a period of time.

Eugene residents are reminded to stay home as much as possible when roads are icy or snowy. If you do have to drive, you should leave early, leave extra following distance, and drive with extreme caution.

To protect your water pipes, Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) suggests that you take a few extra steps when winter temperatures plummet to 20 degrees or less:

  • Cover crawl space vents. Remember to uncover the vents as the weather warms.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks located against outside walls. Insulation in the walls may not be thick enough to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Turn on a small but steady stream of water at the inside faucet farthest away from where your water supply enters your home. Flowing water does not freeze as quickly as still water.

You will know that your pipes have frozen if you turn on the tap and no water flows. If your pipes freeze:

  • Never use a flame or electric appliance, such as a hair dryer or heating pad, to thaw a frozen pipe.
  • You can thaw a frozen pipe by warming towels or blankets in the clothes dryer and then wrapping them around the frozen pipe. Repeat this process until water flows from the tap.
  • If your pipe breaks, shut off your water using your whole-house valve or customer-side hand valve at the water meter. 
  • If you cannot shut the water off, call EWEB at 541-685-7595. 

The winter storm watch was issued for the Central Willamette Valley and South Willamette Valley, including the cities of Salem, McMinnville, Woodburn, Stayton, Dallas, Corvallis, Albany, Lebanon, Eugene, and Springfield.

The city’s Public Works Maintenance Division is keeping a very close eye on local conditions. Public Works has a fleet of 13 plows, eight sanders, three de-icer application trucks and an assortment of small equipment. Several trucks are loaded with de-icer now and are waiting to be deployed as necessary.

“Our crews have been put on inclement weather alert, and when we know we need to ramp up, we will move to 24-hour coverage with two shifts working 12 hours each,” said Rob Brooks, surface maintenance supervisor at Public Works Maintenance. “If we get inclement weather over the weekend, we will have operators working.”

The Public Works Maintenance team is no stranger to weather events in Eugene. It has a well-established system for responding to inclement weather in a way that supports safety for emergency responders, the Eugene Airport, school snow routes, public transit vehicles and community members alike.

The City’s response if it does snow or the streets become icy is to distribute de-icer and sand on city-maintained streets according to its priority map. More than two inches of snow must fall before plows can work effectively.

Eugene property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks in front of homes clear of snow and ice.

For more information about the city’s storm response plan, see the city’s inclement weather response web page. 

In emergencies, call 9-1-1. Non-emergency calls after 4 p.m. and over the weekend should go to the police non-emergency number, (541) 682-5111. Call the Public Works Maintenance customer service desk, 541-682-4800, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Updates (Jan. 12, 2024): Lane County provided an updated list of warming spaces dated Jan. 12, and a link was updated to show the latest list. The story added Information from EWEB on protecting your water pipes during a cold snap. The amount of predicted ice was updated to one-half inch of ice, reflecting information provided by a Lane County alert.

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