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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 15, 2008 7:31 AM. The previous post in this blog was Storm update: Nothing's different from an hour ago. The next post in this blog is Buck-a-Hit Day goes to 5,000 hits. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Everything's closed -- but why, exactly?

Just about nothing is going to get done in Portland today. Everything's closed.

This illustrates how wimpy the Rose City is when it comes to weather. The current conditions are 22 degrees Farenheit, with wind blowing about 20 miles an hour. There is about a half-inch of ice on some city streets and most sidewalks.

But there is hardly a cloud in the sky, and no further precipitation is expected before Wednesday.

For this, we close everything down?

Why -- why is everything closed today? Think carefully before answering, because it seems highly unlikely that things are going to be any different tomorrow. Wednesday won't be any better, and the forecast calls for freezing temperatures to stay in place all week long, if not longer.

Whichever roads are going to be sanded, have already been sanded. The government doesn't do side streets around here -- ever.

So why all the closures? Is it just because it's very cold?

Comments (37)

I bet there are plenty of places that aren't closed. First we still have over a month of the Bush administration so you know the shoe stores will be open.
I went out last night around 10 and walked a long way staying on the edge of the roads where it wasn't packed. Quite beautiful really in a slightly harsh way. It was interesting to see the various places that hung in there and stayed open.
If we don't get our courage up and support these local businesses, a grave medical epidemic could sweep our fair city. We could be looking at an outbreak of cabin fever.

Why -- why is everything closed today?

Perhaps they needed an emergency City Council meeting to deal with matters that the public just doesn't need to know about. This would assure low attendance.

I don't think it is the cold. It has been this cold before. It might be the half inch of ice that is concerning people. A half inch might as well be 4 inches when you are trying to navigate it, although it seems lots of people are managing.

Sooner or later somebody had better get out there with a shovel, some sand or some salt, because the stuff won't be melting much, if at all, today.

Bill,
You have given me an idea.
What if everyone got out the old shoes thay haven't worn in ages and were planning to send to Goodwill, and sent them to George...for Christmas?
I have this vision of millions, billions (?) of shoes on the front lawn of the White house.
A parting gift of sorts.

I closed my office today for my employees sake and I think tomorrow WILL be safer driving. Ice and snow tend to 'evaporate' (that's my non-technical description) when the weather is this cold. My hope is that by tomorrow the roads will be dry.

I think what you're referring to is sublimation. That will work in some wind-exposed areas, but there's still going to be a lot of ice around tomorrow. And probably the rest of the week as well.

A weather spell like this is really the only serious opportunity you East Coast emigrants have to make a virtue of the harsh winters back there and the coping skills that they impart. It's good to see you making the most of it. Bear in mind that these early winter cold snaps usually last longer than forecast and sometimes end badly, as this one seems likely to do.

An ice storm for Santa? That would be a drag, but to burn a day like today just puts more pressure on coming in to work when it's really bad.

The closures are good for parents who would have been stuck without alternate care for their children since the all schools are closed (not sure about Vancouver). I'm not saying that family considerations have much to do with the closures, but an least it provides an additional day to reconcile with the weather related problems after the initial storm.

I'm at work, thanks to the terrific work of our Tri-Met bus driver, who got us all downtown safely and efficiently. A lot of Portlanders are working hard today.

I am sure the streetcar is running.

I can tell you that Powell Bldv. from Gresham all the way over the Ross Island Bridge is nicely graveled and easy to navigate. I wish the studded tires I ordered from the Tire Rack had arrived already; as I have a set of rims to mount them on as soon as they arrive.
Portland really isn't prepared to deal with winter roads the way cities in the northeast are. But then again, there are winters where gravel and de-icing fluids are rarely needed.
By the way, three of the four businesses in my building are open at 9:00 A.M. this morning.

Jack, for school districts at least, they probably need at least Monday to figure out if they're going to be able to provide adequate heat for students, especially the youngest ones (K-3 at the least). Most of the building stock in all the local districts--not just PPS--is not designed to handle these temperatures. Add to that parental concerns about kids waiting for buses in cold and dark conditions (and yes, there are parents who will call to complain if that happens!), and possible concerns about pipes and sanitary conditions especially for the youngest students...it becomes a mess. Sorting out the younger students and leaving them home while the older students come in doesn't work well, either, especially since many parents will depend on those older students to provide childcare.

Additionally, most districts around Portland use private contractors to run bus services instead of their own fleets. Let's just say that the largest contractor is--ahem--not always the brightest light in the universe outside of the conditions on the valley floor, especially in cold weather. Many of those buses are diesels. They may need Monday to get the fleet up and running. Not every district in the area has access to reliable Tri-Met service or even Tri-Met service, period (not the case for PPS/Centennial/David Douglas/Parkrose but definitely the case for Clackamas County Schools and Gresham/Barlow) to use that as a backup.

With those two factors, it's just easier to spend Monday regrouping and figuring out what to do the rest of the week, at least for the school districts. Which is probably what is happening right now. The schools that remain closed on Tuesday are the ones that have facilities/transport issues.

About 'burning up days' as in, 'wasting(?) time.'

Compared to what? Producing time? The hinge of the concept is the polarity between country-cousin and city-cousin, the agrarian and the cosmopolitan, the natural circadian, astrology-lighted, biosphere rhythms, and vs. the cubicled 60-hz florescent flickerjump.

On the farms and in the fields winter is when to lay down, hibernate. It don't matter that it's cold out, since nobody is going anywhere and nothing is left to do. Besides, it's dark all night long. It's a circadian thing.

Winter solstice is when to sit around the igloo ice cave or meet around potbellied stoves and predict the weather next Spring -- when it arrives, what it looks like, the crops it favors, and the winds of the political climate for sowing and planting. Sagittarius says, "I see" (far ahead).

City-cousin says, 'I see 10 clients a day so I must keep my appointments.'

And take it out:
"REAL, COMPARED TO WHAT": ANTI-WAR SOUL
, Les McCann and Eddie Harris, 1969, © Eugene McDaniels

The president, he got his war.
Folks don't know just what it's for.
Nobody gives us a rhyme or reason,
Have one doubt they call it treason.
We're chicken feathers all, without one nut.
Goddammit: Try to make it real, compared to what?

Love the lie and lie the love
Hanging on, with a push and shove

Posession is the motivation
That is hangin' up the goddamn nation
Looks like we always end up in a rut
Everybody now
Tryin' to make it real, compared to what

I'm sure that if the city announced new investments in snow removal equipment the majority of the people on this site would moan about it being a waste on money.

By tomorrow, a sufficient number of vehicles with studded tires or chains will have driven over most streets to wear off the ice through friction. So driving will be measurably safer for cars without traction enhancements. As for me, on a bike, it will be worse, because all the ice and snow will be piled up on the sides of the road.

Alas, not the courthouses.

If people have cars made for weather and studded tires or chains, they can get to work or school. And, TriMet is doing an exceptional job for the folks as well who don't have cars equipped for this. Call me naive, but it seems if you want to get to work, you can. That being said, about the kids in school....The teachers and parents can also take public transportation or invest in chains, carpool with a heartier driver, etc and get the kids to the classrooms during weather events.

This seems like an excuse to have a snow day, and in a district with a short school year like Portland, it sure looks like a bad idea to me to play hookey.

All I know is that I got to work, and my office mates did too. The kids got shuttled to Grandma's or wherever, and life goes on. Why is this such an issue here in Portland?

"Alas, not the courthouses."

Federal court is closed.

No Oregonian delivery today out here in the wilderness. Not sure how many days like this can happen before the remaining subscribers decide to pack it in and just go online all the time.

I think the Oregonian might beat its subscribers in "packing it in;" they announced the cessation of home delivery in Eugene last week.

(http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2008/12/15/oregonian_stops_delivery_in_eu)

My treasured Monday Oregonian was right at the front door threshold at 5:20 this morning. I wish the content were as good as the delivery.

Everyone reported to work here in my department at OHSU except one working Mom who is home with the kids. I dont work in the hospital, which is always open of course, but in a central admin department. The drive in was slow but I experienced no problems.

Tensk,
Let the record show that I referenced the "Compared to What" lyrics earlier on this site. I also want to mention the album recorded live at Montreaux as being the definitive version of this - at least among my peeps. One great night in the long-lost past we even filed into a big Portland nightclub/tavern and watched Eddie Harris play live. It was that big east-side place(The Earth? I can never remember the name) where I also beheld Charles Mingus.
I get your problem with saying a day off is wasted. My commute is to the basement downstairs where I write jokes for an hour or two every day no matter how badly it's snowing outside.
At first, I was going to skip the shoe incident, for its troubling aspects, but then I figured that due to the bad weather conditions, I had better take it easy. So I wrote lots of jokes about the shoe incident. Now I'm just waiting for the radio premises to get here so I can wrap up the work portion of my day. What am I? A machine?
For me time is the ultimate luxury and a day off is actually a day ON.
I did notice when I took the garbage out that the sun on the snow looked very beautiful. Time for another long walk.

"First we still have over a month of the Bush administration so you know the shoe stores will be open."

Thank you, thank you Muntadhar al-Zeidi for your eloquence; "A farewell kiss from the widows of Iraq you dog." and having an arm like Willy Mays. Bush the artful dodger ducking beautifully as both shoes arched perfectly one following the other just inches from his head. Pure Poetry in motion. There is a Santa Claus I got my wish for Christmas.

The businesses are closed because Portlanders are too stupid to apply tire chains, even tho the street is clearly a sheet of ice.

My wife works in an industry that can't close. I drove her from Beaverton to NoPo this AM, chains on all 4 wheels. It was slippery, but easy to do.

Of all the other cars (mostly SUVs) on the road, less than 10% had chains or studs. Tiptoing along, blocking traffic and sliding thru stop signs.

Whatta buncha maroons!

Another Blogtown reference! See what you're missing Jack?

I sure wish the 7up delivery driver in Keizer had stayed home. He managed to slide his truck and block all lanes of traffic on River Rd. Other than that, it wasn't that bad. Getting over the curb into my driveway was the most challenging part of the drive.

All the roads are covered in ice out here in Hillsboro. The only gravel I've seen on the roads looked to be put there by private parties. I firmly believe the driving conditions are worse here than Portland (excluding the West Hills).

Nevertheless, the county courthouse was open on time and the only Judge I know that didn't make it is senior/retired. Most telling, nearly all criminal defendants were here this AM. They know that if the MAX is running, they better be here.

Having said all that, I still would not try to get to L&C Law if that last 1/4 mile of Terwilliger was not cleared. I remember the car-eating ditches from about 4 years ago.

It was that big east-side place (The Earth? I can never remember the name) where I also beheld Charles Mingus.

The Earth was in Northwest. Did you mean the Euphoria?

Back to Montreux -- on bass that day with McCann and Harris? Leroy Vinnegar, who lived his last dozen years in Portland.

These little snow/"cold" snaps and the subsequent apocalypse that occurred after them always amused me while in law school. I still remember someone at L&C asking me how I got to school after the inch of snow the night before, as if the obvious answer (I drove) was just too darned ridiculous to comprehend.

Here in ND, I think we made it to 15 degrees today...BELOW ZERO that is. And nary a school closure. When I woke up, the wind chill was hovering around 50 on the wrong side.

I think the Euphoria was at SE 2nd & Stark

The Euphoria. That's the name I can never remember. The Earth and the Silver Moon were in the Northwest. Details were a little hazy even back then and it's only gotten worse.

I had a friend who used to proudly (and accurately) say that she lived between the Earth and the Moon.

Two great shows I remember from the Euphoria: Pat Metheny circa '78, and George Thorogood circa '81.

Wow, Big T, I am soooo impressed! Got up early and did the manly thing - put those big bad chains on the 'ol 4-wheeler. Then went out and showed up everyone! Hope you got your rocks off.......

Does anyone complaining about school closures know that Tigard Tualatin School District is also closed on Tuesday? My kids will probably have their daily class schedule increased by 2 minutes per period as was done last year to make up for the lost days.


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