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It's all a matter of perspective. You make a valid point about the risk involved for City employees to make the journey into downtown. At the same time here is a city which closed all of the schools west of the Willamette because of the 'winter storm' last week that deposited 3/4" of snow on the streets.
As a product of the Midwest the Pac NW's obsession with weather is laughable. It really is a matter of preparedness. While in St. Louis, for example, a 22" snow storm closed the city and the colleges there for 3 days while in Ann Arbor, after 26" of the fluffy stuff the college was open and the sidewalks clear the next a.m.
If the City has the equipment and puts in the time to clear the roads and keep mass transit running then it isn't unreasonable to ask employees to be at work (with some leniency as to tardiness I'm sure), but if the paths aren't clear, then the expectations are unreasonable.


the city since has officially closed.


I never thought I would wish I was in Spokane, but right now I do...their streets and sidewalks are plowed...this city really sucks in the snow when your main form of transportation is walking.

Good to know ben, I have to agree with brian, when my hometown in virginia would get snow (it was in the same boat as Portland), they would close the normal city functions and the ones that had important jobs such as police, fire, and snow removal had to still go into work. It is no point having anyone pushing papers when I have seen my mailman all week.


My office closes and pays employees for the day ONLY if the City offices are closed. Thank goodness it is official now!

As for Portland being compared to midwest cities preparedness, I do not think we get this kind of weather often enough to justify the high cost of that level of preparedness.

To compare Portland Ann Arbor (or even Spokane) is a stretch!


My bus route is cancelled, car is buried, as is our street. I did however manage to walk to the store, but had to walk in the street - on Barbur Blvd. I didn't feel safe, but the snow banks were pretty deep from the plows burying the sidewalks. Most drivers were considerate, but one truck buzzed me by 2 inches. No joke. I still had fun.


robert, I am not comparing, I am complaining...when was the last time Portland got this much snow?? There would be no point in the city being overly prepared for this.


Dennis, I agree that there is no point in Portland being prepared to clear 26" of snow by the next morning. Wheelo was making the comparison with the midwest and Portland.


as another transplant to PDX, it galls me that the City, and quite frankly the population too, is so complacent about letting the snow shut the city down...hey neighbors, how about shoveling your sidewalk while you're "trapped" at home? huh? that shovel you use for your urban farming is not going to break...

I've seen plenty of trucks with mini-plows on the front that could have been moving snow when the weather started. I agree there's no need to have the equipment to clear 2 ft of snow overnight. How about 4" (which seems enough to shut us all down)?

ooh, ooh, ooh, i have an idea...how about allowing the use of proper de-icing if these weather events are so rare?

and, to calm down and admit to compelling reasons for the difficulty of clearing snow, we do have a good deal of elevation change in our area...but that just means prioritizing the essential streets.

let's grow up and admit that we do have weather events that need action.

...imagine if a hospital said, "meh...let's not carry sutures [or MRI's, or some other more random procedural equipment, you get the idea]...we rarely use them"

and yes, i'm posting from work today


Events that happen every few years are not so rare! In fact, you can count on them. As another transplant I find it almost funny the way Portland gets paralyzed by a few inches of snow --- if it weren't such an inconvenience. If Sam Adams can't handle this, how is he going to handle a real emergency --- that is, the kind that doesn't happen on a regular basis.


The last time it snowed this much was 40 years ago.

This is not an "every few years" event that the City should be prepared for every winter.

And yes I am posting from home. I am at a higher elevtaion and the fire department even had the main road in our neighborhood blocked off yesterday it was so dangerous.


For the record I wasn't comparing Portland to Ann Arbor. My point is: if the roads are passable then the expectation of work attendance is not unreasonable, if not, then the employees should be permitted to stay home.
That said, it is still humorous to watch the hours and hours of television coverage of poor saps with microphones standing in snow drifts beside the major highways while wind blows snow around them. As for preparedness and snow-why is that cities are required to prepare for 100-year flood possibility?


the 40yr stat was for a 24hr snow accumulation. we've certainly had city-shut down snow events in the time since. if i remember correctly, 2003 shut us down for a week (and mostly because we couldn't move the snow, and it subsequently turned to ice.)

and we've had snow on the valley floor pretty much every year in some amount...it's just not that uncommon


This weekend also reveals how over-hyped the city's public transit system is. I bet the buses in Milwaukee would be running in this weather and would cost you less than $2.


Let's just imagine what might happen in a real emergency -- why have make believe "preparedness" exercises for once in a lifetime disasters if we can't manage to deal with run of the mill out of the ordinary events?


Cost-benefit analysis is at the root of all public policies...one would hope. A 100-yr flood represents a regional disaster. An unprepared local government would likely be devastating. The inconveniences we are experiencing this week is minuscule by comparison...to say the least.

As for comparisons to cities in the Midwest or on the east coast... that's laughable. Cities in those regions get 3 to 5 storms like this one in a winter...every winter. We get them every few years and not usually as bad as this one.

When we do see snow the amount of accumulation varies wildly across the city depending on the combination of elevation, wind direction, proximal vegetation, etc. Your part of town might get 3/4" while a quarter mile away the streets could be covered in six inches. City officials and school superintendents make their decisions on the worst conditions, not the average or the mean.

I hope the city doesn't turn to salting the roads. That crap is devastating to cars and concrete alike.


City employees were asked to use "management leave" (whatever that is)or "comp leave", not vacation if they can't make it to work. For those of us in the private sector, most of us have neither. I'm sure their collective bargining agreement has it all spelled out in nauseating detail...so don't blame the messenger.


It's not such a big city. People can walk to work. Wake up a little early and put on a good pair of boots. Most of us could use the exercise anyway.

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