FILE — Oregon ice storm

A fallen tree blocks a suburban road overlooking Bush's Pasture Park in Salem, Oregon on February 14, 2021 following a historic ice storm over President's Day weekend, which knocked out power to some 300,000 Oregonian households.

(The Center Square) — It could be says before some 200,000 Oregonians see their lights back on after a historic ice storm over President's Day weekend.

Starting Saturday, approximately 300,000 Oregonian households across more than 100 zip codes around Western Oregon saw their power go out, according to reports by Portland General Electric (PGE). 

The incident followed a blast of freezing temperatures that left Portland with about two inches of snow and an inch of ice in the Willamette Valley to the south. It also brought down an estimated 4,000 power lines and thousands more trees around the state.

Temperatures around Western Oregon are expected to rise above freezing for the rest of the week, but PGE reports windstorms and downed trees over the weekend further delayed restoring power until Friday at the earliest.

As of Tuesday morning, about 203,000 Oregonians were still without power while Oregon's COVID-19 vaccine clinics from Salem to Portland expect to see delayed shipments of vaccine doses after closing their doors to the hazardous weather.

On Saturday, Gov. Kate Brown declared an ongoing state of emergency in nine Oregon counties including Polk, Marion, and Clackamas. 

The governor described the President's Day Weekend outages as the worst the state had ever seen to date. PGE said in a statement that last weekend saw the worst ice storm 40 years.

By comparison, some 91,000 Oregonians were left without power during the Labor Day wildfires of 2020.

"Because of windstorms, utility crews were not able to safely start work on restoring power until this morning," Brown said. "Crews are out in full force now and are coordinating with local emergency response teams on communications for emergency services, such as warming centers." 

Brown's order frees up state resources such as the Department of Transportation crews to prioritize efforts to restore power grids affected by the storm.

On Tuesday, at least 78,000 customers in Clackamas were without power or the most of any county in the state. Another 18,000 Pacific Power customers around the state were without power early on Tuesday morning.

Oregon is just one of six states where emergency orders from the governor can be extended indefinitely without renewal which Republican state lawmakers have taken issue with in court.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.