Opinion: Portland Sucks at Snow

As I am sure you have noticed, it recently snowed quite a lot here in Portland. Overall, this last week got us around 12 inches of snow, with many referring to the event as a  “snowpocalypse.” And while, yes, this was some record-breaking snowfall – the snowiest day since 1943, apparently – this is something that any big city should be able to handle, no matter how rare it may be.

Now, before I go into my tangent, I will admit that I am biased. Living on the east coast my whole life has given me an example of what it is like to live in a city that can handle snow and can handle it well. And while, of course, Portland has much less experience dealing with snow, a little bit of snow should not have the ability to shut down a whole city for days. 

My first quip: The lack of salt available throughout the city. I have heard talk about Portland not using salt in an effort to be environmentally conscious – one Portlander simply told me that, “it’s bad for the fish” – but other cities, mine included, use salt that is environmentally friendly, and it works. There are even salt alternatives that the city can use if they want to. Personally, I think that anything is better than the drawbacks that come with a lack of salt. Icy sidewalks and roads are why the city essentially shut down for four days – something that could be fully remedied with a proper distribution of salt.

Then there is the problem of snow plows. While I have yet to get a definitive answer as to whether or not Portland even owns a snow plow, I have heard that they have to borrow theirs from Washington any time it snows, which I fully believe – based on the city’s other examples of lack of snow-preparedness. What is the problem in investing in a few snow plows?

Of course, I am not complaining about the unexpected four-day weekend that was thrust upon us, I am simply saying that a city should not be fully disrupted as a result of a few inches of snow. Snowpocalypse led to drivers stuck on the road for hours on end, injuries because of the ice, and other major disruptions that could be easily solved. So, with the end of this rant, I impart some wisdom onto the great city of Portland: Please do better, for the sake of us all.

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