TRAVEL ALERT: ODOT issues caution

More rain and the threat of snow and freezing rain on Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge could make hazardous driving conditions in the days ahead.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a lot of rain in the Portland area, up to three inches, with the heaviest punch coming from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. That could translate into high water on the roads, snow on the Cascade passes, a slushy mix on Interstate 84 in the Gorge and perhaps some icy roads near Hood River.

Travelers in the region should use extreme caution for this mix of wintry weather by checking conditions on their route at Weekend travelers setting out on Christmas travels should be extra careful.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is gearing up for this new round of heavy rain and flooding and will close any flooded road presenting a safety hazard.

Travelers must obey road closure signs for their own safety and for the safety of highway workers. Driving through flooded roads could cause your car to be swept away or stall in the middle of the high water.

Heavy rain often means limited visibility, reduced tire traction and less predictable car handling. If you must drive:

  • Watch out for each other. In poor visibility, bicyclists need to remember cars can’t stop as quickly and motorists need to remember it may be harder to see the bicycles.
  • Slow down, watch for people walking and biking in limited visibility. Allow more time to get where you’re going and allow for plenty of distance between cars, which need two or three times more stopping distance on wet roads.
  • Don’t drive through high water and flooded roads.Driving through several inches of water at high speed can cause you to lose control of the car and could splash water into the engine and stall it. Lowering your speed helps you prepare for sudden stops caused by disabled cars, debris and other wet-weather hazards.
  • Disengage your cruise control.
  • Allow more time to reach your destination. In severe weather, closures and crashes can cause long delays.
  • Plan ahead by leaving extra time when driving in heavy rain and windy conditions.

Visit or dial 511 for the latest information travel conditions and road closures.

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