Nightly News   |  February 09, 2014

Ice Storm Incapacitates Pacific Northwest

First the snow came and then the ice.  The slick conditions kept many off the roads and stifled transit in Portland.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in the u.s. tonight to the pacific northwest , where the weather has emerged as a big issue in the lives of millions of people, many of whom are being urged to stay home until a major ice storm in the region blows over. nbc's joe friar is in portland, oregon . good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. after three days of snow came freezing rain , paralyzing much of the region. tonight, things are gradually improving on the interstate. many are electing to stay home and stay safe.

>> give it a push.

>> go ahead.

>> reporter: so disruptive is the winter storm that's blasting the pacific northwest , early this morning the city of portland sent its first-ever wireless emergency alert to cell phones, urging all residents to stay indoors today and not travel due to ice. many oregon drivers have abandoned their cars on idle highways, roads so bad at least two mothers had no other choice but to give birth to their babies in back of ambulances. paramedic jesse fitzpatrick helped to deliver one of the baby.

>> we were just trying to get to the hospital, but didn't quite make it in time.

>> reporter: the state just doesn't have enough road equipment to keep up.

>> we wouldn't want to spend the money maintaining that equipment for snow storms that only happen once or twice a year.

>> reporter: falling tree limbs weighed down by ice are adding to the danger.

>> the tree came down and went right across our truck. we're dodging trees coming down.

>> reporter: even portland's popular transit trains came to a halt. what are you nervous about?

>> getting to the airport so we don't miss our flight. of course, the flight might be canceled when we get there.

>> reporter: service is slowly returning, and a train showed up, offering them hope they'll make their flight.

>> we measured a foot and a half in our backyard.

>> reporter: others simply gave up on machines and relied on manpower.

>> it's really good. when you're done, you're not facing a drive home. just walking through your front door.

>> reporter: this moisture stretched along the west coast , dumping snow in seattle and heavy rain in northern california , causing long delays, up to three hours, at san francisco airport . but offering some hope for a region parched by extreme drought.

>> while this is welcomed and it is a godsend, we need so much more to have a chance at being able to save many of our crops.

>> reporter: as for ice-covered oregon , most heeded the warning and stayed indoors today, but the roads are expected to stay treacherous come monday morning. forecasters say the worst of it appears to be over. more rain is expected this week. people here just hope it's not more freezing rain . brian?