15 Dec

Here are messages I texted while I was sitting perfectly still in Portland’s Snowmaggedon traffic:

Traffic jam ahead. Traffic jam ahead. Traffic jam ahead. Shut up, GPS.

Highway 5 is a very long parking lot. I don’t normally text behind the wheel, but my car is in park. I haven’t seen any vehicles move in several minutes…except perhaps to turn around, which from what I can tell means they’re driving the wrong way down an exit ramp.

If you live in Oregon, and snow is in the forecast, stay home! No matter what your plans are, no matter if you’ll miss class or work, stay home!


Bloody hell, I got home at 12:09 am. I started driving at about 2:45 pm. It took me about nine and a half hours to drive from Portland, a route that customarily takes about two hours.

As I finally drove up my street in the middle of the night, the neighborhood was silent and still. Several trees were lying in the street, because while I was foolishly away (I should have stayed home!), there had been an ice storm, the biggest in somewhere between thirty and forty years. All the tree branches are coated with a thick coat of ice.


If you don’t live in or near Portland, you might wonder what causes the traffic to stop. It is illegal to use rock salt in Oregon, for environmental reasons, and the city of Portland has a minimal number of plows, simply because it doesn’t snow frequently enough to make the expense of sufficient plows a high priority. In a typical winter, it will rain a great deal, and it will snow once or twice, at most three inches, and those few inches melt away within twenty-four hours. However, some winters are exceptions. Another problem may be that quite a number of drivers, especially California transplants, don’t know how to drive in snow. Some people just aren’t driving the best vehicles for such weather, or they’re driving without tire chains.

When I headed out, everyone was leaving school and work early because the snow was coming down heavily. With everyone leaving, well, many vehicles were in the streets and on the highway. I have never in one day/night seen so many vehicles sliding, stuck, pulling over, turning around, or abandoned. It was utter chaos. But I certainly listened to a great many Pandora radio stations…even stations I forgot I bookmarked.

During most of Portland’s Snowpacalypes, I have had the fortunate timing to be out of state, such as visiting family in Phoenix, where it can easily be seventy degrees in December. Now that I recently moved away from Portland, I happened to not check Portland weather before driving off to Portland.


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