Update: Tues, Jan 16, 12:30 pm: According to PGE's latest social media update, made early Tuesday afternoon, the utility company has "made significant progress, having restored power to over 130,000 customers since Saturday. According to PGE's outage map, however, more than 31,000 customers are still without power— and there's an ice storm on the forecast tonight that could jeopardize the progress made so far. 

"We're restoring as many customers as possible before the possible next weather pattern hits tonight. Based on the damage crews are seeing and challenging conditions, we expect a low percentage of customers will continue to be without power throughout the week," PGE's restoration update states. "There are potential high wind gusts today through 7 p.m., with a potential for freezing rain/sleet this evening and overnight. This second weather pattern could add additional outages and extend restoration times." 

The second severe weather pattern could also hinder other progress citywide. TriMet has resumed MAX service on the Blue Line only, and the Portland Streetcar is running its west side routes, but the forecasted freezing rain could impede both operations for an extended time. 

Update: Monday, Jan 15: PGE reported earlier today that more than 160,000 customers were without power Saturday, citing "nearly 850 downed distribution power lines, lines wrapped around fallen limbs, transformer and substation damage, as well as trees that had toppled equipment." By Monday morning, the utility company had restored power to most, but about 75,000 customers were still without electricity. 

Update: Sun., Jan. 14, 12:30 pm:  Though snowfall and intense wind subsided Saturday evening, temperatures in Portland remain dangerously low. Amid below-freezing conditions, many Portlanders are unable to turn on the heat. PGE currently reports a total of 3,162 power outages in their service area, impacting 117,781 customers. The company has told customers who haven't had their power restored to expect "an extended outage" that could last through the weekend. 

"PGE is working to restore power as quickly and safely as conditions allow. Nearly 400 PGE and contract field personnel are currently working to assess damage and restore service," a January 13 statement on the utility company's website says. "The winter storm brought subfreezing temperatures, high winds and a mix of freezing precipitation. Many of the outages are due to vegetation interference such as limbs on lines or trees falling into power lines. Crew response may be impacted by snow, high winds, road conditions or fallen trees." 

The Mercury reached out to PGE for additional comment. This story will be updated.

Original story: 

Portlanders are currently experiencing the coldest weather the region has seen in years. On Saturday, January 13, temperatures hovered around 16 degrees, with the wind chill factor making it feel even colder, and blizzard-like conditions blanketing the metro area with snow. The extreme winter weather stopped most city operations in their tracks, especially as downed trees block road passage and lead to power outages in many parts of the city. 

Portland General Electric (PGE), the energy utility company that services most of the city, save for much of the Northeast quadrant, reported about 2,700 active power outages during the evening of January 13, with around 145,000 affected customers. Pacific Power, which services most people north of I-84 between I-5 and East 122nd Avenue, as well as a few neighborhoods downtown, reported fewer outages, but thousands of customers were still impacted. 

Residents have expressed frustration to PGE— which increased its residential rates 18 percent at the beginning of 2024— and have been met with answers many feel are unsatisfactory.

One person, identifying themselves as a PGE customer, took to X (formerly Twitter) to note: "5+ hours no heat. It’ll be dark and 10 degrees colder soon!" In response, a PGE representative wrote that their crews "will be working around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible." The company has not offered an estimated power restoration time. 

The outages, mainly caused by downed trees knocking over power lines, are also hindering TriMet operations. TriMet announced January 12 that all people headed to a warming shelter could get a free ride on the bus, MAX light rail, or streetcar. But throughout the day Saturday, the public transit agency experienced many service impediments, and finally announced they would suspend all MAX light rail operations until further notice. 

"Power outages, trees down and dangerous conditions have impacted our ability to safely provide MAX service at this time," a TriMet service alert, posted shortly before 3 pm Saturday, said. "We are attempting to provide shuttle buses where possible, but riders should expect long delays and use regular bus service or other transportation. Those who can avoid traveling at this time should do so." 

Portland Streetcar operations were suspended on the east side, and many bus routes were rerouted to avoid streets with fallen trees and power lines. All operating TriMet lines are subject to delays. 

Reports from county warming shelters indicate high volumes of people have sought respite from the frigid temperatures. 

Weather reports indicate snow will cease Saturday night and temperatures will rise about 10 degrees Sunday, January 14. But forecasts predict it will be below freezing in the Portland area until Tuesday, and nighttime lows will be in the teens until then.  In such cold weather, frostbite can happen quickly and can lead to sepsis and permanent nerve damage. Hypothermia is a deadly risk for people out in cold weather, and can set in in less than 30 minutes. Local officials and experts have advised people who can to stay inside.