Winter Weather

Many parts of Oregon and Washington don’t often get snow, ice, and other extreme winter weather. But it does happen. Think ahead and make sure you're prepared.

The Basics


A dog stands next to a snow shovel that is stuck in a pile of snow.


During Extreme Winter Weather

Snow and Ice



Historic Downtown Gresham covered in snow.


Photo of a home's external furnace exhaust vent. Snow is piled up next to it, but the vent is clear.
Make sure your home's exhaust vent is clear of snow and ice. If it get's clogged, it could cause carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. 
  • Don’t travel unless you absolutely must.
  • Slow down! Speed is the number one reason for accidents. While three to five seconds is the standard following distance, add more time when there’s poor visibility, snow, or ice.
  • Keep a Vehicle Breakdown Guide in your vehicle.
  • Learn how to put on snow chains
  • Have an emergency kit in your vehicle. If your car breaks down, stay with it until help comes. 

Use online maps including Oregon Trip Check and Washington Trip Check to check your route and avoid problems.

Visit the TriMet or the CTran winter weather pages to sign up for service alerts, learn about snow routes, and find tips for traveling in winter weather by bus and train.

  • In most areas, property owners or tenants are responsible for clearing snow and ice from in front of their homes and businesses. This helps everyone stay safer, especially people with limited physical mobility.
  • Learn how to prevent falls when walking on snow and ice. 
  • Check in with neighbors who might need a hand.
  • Monitor local news and sign up for FlashAlerts to receive info about closures. 

Using alternative heat sources indoors can lead to poisoning and death. If your power goes out, know how to recognize and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. View the Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power websites for info about progress restoring power to customers and further safety advice. 

Also, make sure your home's exhaust vent is clear of snow and ice. If it gets clogged, it may cause carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. 

  • Be cautious when driving or hiking in areas with loose dirt. Rapidly melting snow and ice can create flooding and land movement.

Extreme Cold

Graphic with info about 211 services (food, housing, childcare, utilities, healthcare, and more)


Spending too much time in the cold can create a medical emergency. If your body’s temperature drops too low, you may be unable to think clearly or move well. You might not notice when it’s happening. Learn about cold weather safety so you know the signs of low body temperature and how to stay safe from frostbite and hypothermia.   

If you have pets: 

  • Don’t forget that extreme cold can harm pets as well. Animals left outside in extreme cold are at risk of hypothermia and even death. Their owners may also be at risk of breaking the law.

If you see someone living outside in the cold:

  • And you have questions about how to help, call 211. 
  • And you think their life is in danger, call 911. 

If you need shelter:

  • During extreme cold weather events, winter warming shelters are sometimes opened to help protect people who don’t have access to shelter. During extreme weather, contact 211info or visit your county's website to find resources near you: 

If you need financial assistance:

  • If you need help paying your energy bills or weatherizing your home, contact 211info to see if assistance is available in your area.

How to contact 211:

  • Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155 (24/7)
  • TTY dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155
  • Text your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
  • Email
  • Download the app 
  • Search online at 

Interpreters for 100+ languages available by phone; text and email is in English and Spanish only.

Mental Health

Graphic with 211 contact info (phone, TTY, text, email, app, and website)


The cold, dark days of winter can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s also known as the “winter blues,” and it’s very common. It can be especially hard when you’re dealing with other challenges, such as the pandemic. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. Reach out to a friend or a trained mental health provider.  


  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Experiencing low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in mood, sleeping habits, appetite, and weight

Ways to Fight the Blues

How to Find Help