Image: 10-car pileup on Southeast Otty Road in Portland's Mt. Scott neighborhood. (KATU-TV)
Portland drivers have once again been rendered helpless by snow.
During Wednesday's snow showers that dusted Portland with just over 2 inches of snow, the slippery streets led to a spike in the number of car crashes.
During the 20-hour period from noon Wednesday until 8 am today, the city's 911 operators received 101 reports of crashes. That's a rate of more than five wrecks an hour.
By way of comparison, during the same hours Monday into Tuesday, there were only 59 crashes reported, over 40 percent fewer, says Sgt. Peter Simpson, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau. (The city doesn't track how many crashes are reported on an average day, he says, so it had to use the previous day as a baseline.)
"Officers were responding to crashes all over the city for hours yesterday and overnight," says Simpson. "Fortunately we did not have any traffic fatalities."
Yesterday's dusting paralyzed the city's car traffic, leading to six-hour evening commutes, hundreds of cars abandoned by the side of the roads, and high fares from the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.
Local TV stations had a field day with the crash footage. Perhaps the most startling images this time around came from Southeast Portland's Mt. Scott neighborhood, where as many as 20 cars skidded out of control in a pileup last night.
Finger-pointing has ensued: Mayor Charlie Hales this afternoon admonished drivers for taking to the highways Wednesday unprepared, while many drivers fumed at the Portland Bureau of Transportation for not de-icing or plowing streets more quickly.
Hopefully, Portland has a few lessons to learn from the last storm before the next one hits as soon as this weekend.
"It's a reminder that drivers need to be extra attentive when road conditions are poor and they need to prepare their vehicles and themselves for weather conditions like yesterday (traction devices, new tires, fill up the gas tank, proper lighting, working tire jack, food, water, insulated gloves, road flares, etc.)," Simpson says.
"It's certainly not the last storm we'll see this winter so hopefully people will prepare in advance for the next one."