Look out your window. What do you see? Snow. What do you not see? Snow plows.

As Portland gets a surprise dusting of powder—less than half an inch in most places, but still coming down—city officials haven't rolled out the fleet of plows to clear the streets.

Transportation officials say that's no oversight. Instead, they say Portland isn't getting enough snow for plowing to help.

"Snowplows are not appropriate or useful for this weather," says Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera. "There isn't enough to plow. We'd need at least an inch of snow before a snowplow would be useful. We did prepare some plows on Friday, in case the forecast was wrong and we found a few inches of snow."

Before you head to City Hall—very slowly—bearing pitchforks and torches, bear in mind that the city has done something very different than last year, when snow paralyzed traffic and turned the highways into a dystopian vision of abandoned cars.

This time, the city is salting the roads.

Interstate 5 northbound just before the Interstate Bridge. (KATU-TV)
Interstate 5 northbound just before the Interstate Bridge. (KATU-TV)

"PBOT crews applied de-icer proactively in recent days to minimize the icy conditions on routes for first responders and public transit," Rivera says. "All our routes were treated at least once prior to Sunday morning, and some areas were pretreated twice."

So in fact you should be seeing some trucks—the de-icing trucks.

"PBOT has been aggressive and proactive," Rivera tells WW. "We will continue to reapply magnesium chloride de-icer throughout the day and into the evening. The public needs to be reminded that we only apply de-icer on emergency routes, busy streets at high elevation, bridges and overpasses and downtown central business district. We've seen many people driving too fast in hilly areas."

One of those hilly areas—West Burnside Street, west of Northwest 21st Avenue—is closed to cars without chains.