Portland’s Ice Storms – A Chilling Reminder That Mother Nature Is Unpredictable


Zweisystem was in Portland during the 2007 ice storm and what an experience. Portland’s car drivers seemed ill equipped to deal with ice and tried to drive like it was snow and the following video shows the results.

The following video shows a four car MAX train clearing the ice build up in the flange way at an intersection. The build up of ice in the flange way breaks the electrical contact and stops the train, thus a four car train is needed to clear the flange way so at least one vehicle remains in the electrical circuit. Portland up to 2008 did not invest in snow and ice removal vehicles, unlike other cities who operate light rail in harsh winter conditions and removal of snow and especially ice is done manually.

Just a note: Vancouver hasn’t endured the ices storms that Portland now seems to get on an almost regular basis and when the last time an ice storm hit Vancouver in the late 90’s, the ice build up on the SkyTrain reaction rail stopped the SkyTrain metro system.


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One Response to “Portland’s Ice Storms – A Chilling Reminder That Mother Nature Is Unpredictable”

  1. Jason Says:

    Zweisystem, how is the snow typically cleared from light rail systems in those areas that regularly experience snowy/icy conditions? Are the LRVs equipped with plows or do they use trucks or dedicated snow clearing rail equipment?

    Zweisystem replies: Many large tram systems have dedicated snow removal vehicles, including show plows and snow brooms. Removal of ice is more difficult, but there are specialized tools for this as well. Because of Portland’s temperate climate, there was no investment in snow removal, but the ice storms they have had in the fast few years has spurred authorities to invest in such equipment. I will investigate further and do a post on this issue.

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