Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Navigating the treacherous

I can't recall a Christmas where weather has had such an effect on this region.

Ken and I took off from Seattle today at 10:30 am in our trusty Prius with borrowed chains in the trunk just in case. (Thanks Marcos!) There was some concern that the snow accumulation overnight might vex the progress of the recent warming trend and ruin our chances for a smooth journey. But little did we know what awaited....

We made it to Portland in record time. In 3 hours. We don't even make it down here that quickly in normal weather. There was light traffic and I-5 was just wet pavement. I was utterly amazed. One thing I did do was follow WDOT on Twitter and get updates on my phone of all the troubled spots. It's a good idea if you're traveling. Unfortunately Oregon isn't yet down with the Twittering but does have a comprehensive website.

One interesting thing is that Olympia has its own micro-climate and was colder than anywhere else. We got a little snow and the slightest bit of slush just south of Tumwater, but other than that--easy peezy. It rained a little then it was clear--but less eventful than our normal SEA-PTD drives.

Everything was easy until we neared the WA/OR border. The car's thermometer said outside temp on the WA side was 36, as soon as we hit the 205 bridge it was 32 and it stayed there as we drove. Mother has been house-bound for several days and requested that we go to the store and pick up some things once we hit Portland. I was razzing her a few days ago that she should get out and use the 4wd in her Subaru. I was thinking how bad can it be in Portland? I figured, the side streets are snowy here in Seattle but all main arterials are clear so it should be exactly the same in Portland. Well...we got off 205 and we immediately realized Portland has a little more thawing to do. Sandy Blvd which I assumed would be clear was slushy and the Safeway parking lot was ridiculously slippery. And getting down the 500 feet of mom's cul-de-sac in Portland was the most adventure we had the whole trip.

But my brother has a much more difficult route from Pullman to Portland. He's already traversed from Pullman to Tri-cities and will stay there overnight. But he's going to continue tomorrow which will take him through the Gorge--and from all indications that area is still sub-freezing during the day. He's got a back up plan and can stay overnight in any of the cities along the way but he wants to make it for Christmas. If any one can do it, it's him.

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