Editorial: Information and precautions vital as storm approaches

January 18, 2012

We can always depend on the weather for something to talk about.

"Where's our winter?" was the frequent refrain in December and early January.

We have our answer.

Winter is here.

Look outside, on the roads, and at the school schedule; two-hour delay Tuesday (and numerous event cancellations Tuesday night), closure likely on Wednesday, if weather predictions bear out.

Winter checked in hard and fast this week like a late-arriving guest.

Dragging snow and ice, winter seemed to be saying, "Where do I put all these bags?"

So far, few major problems have occurred on the roads, and credit goes to our public works crews for timely and regular sanding and de-icing runs, especially on hills.

An interesting case of life imitating art happened over the weekend.

"People seem to be nicer to each other when it snows," Neil Simon noted in the play "Prisoner of Second Avenue," which was presented at CAST last weekend in a staged reading. The play ends, fittingly, with the main characters holding up snow shovels in "American Gothic" stance, ready to lend a hand, as a snowstorm descends on the city.

It seemed like a harbinger of the weather we heard was coming. Everyone's ability to anticipate and track the weather is vastly improved in the Google age, so winter storms are rarely a surprise anymore.

Bad weather is probably the area least subject to the idea of "too much information." It's a good thing to keep track of and know what's coming your way. One service a lot of folks might not be aware of is the local "flash alerts" that tell about school delays and other impacts to the community in times of severe weather. (Turn to page A3 for details on how to enroll.)

A reminder of another key source of winter weather information is ODOT's TripChek website (and 5-1-1 phone line).

Say what you want about the level of efficiency of state services, this service is one that is reliable for anyone planning a trip.

With the weather that appears headed our way, travel is probably not a good idea. On Wednesday, weather services predict, the Gorge should see between 6-18 inches of snow, along with strong east winds putting a firm coat of ice on everything.

Even for short trips, precautions include an extra flashlight, food, flares, warm blankets and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Stay safe, and that way you might keep the effects of severe winter weather in the status of a point of conversation - and not direct personal experience.

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