County chair declares state of emergency, four severe weather shelters opening Jan. 28

January 28, 2023

Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson declared a state of emergency that will take effect at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in preparation for life-threatening cold weather forecast to arrive in Multnomah County Jan. 28 and expected to last into early next week.  Executive rule declaring state of emergency Jan. 28, 2023 (103.72 KB)

Starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, Multnomah County, the City of Portland and their service providers will open four severe weather shelters:

All sites will welcome pets and be accessible to people with disabilities. Free transportation to warming shelters will be available by calling 2-1-1. People in need can also ride TriMet to the shelters or to any warm space. TriMet will not turn away anyone traveling to or from a warm place who cannot afford to pay fare during the state of emergency.

The National Weather Service is predicting Saturday’s overnight temperatures will hover around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, but light precipitation and easterly wind gusts are expected to drop temperatures to the upper teens. Between the wind chill and precipitation, experts expect that the weather conditions could be dangerous for people living unsheltered.

Severe weather is forecast to continue Sunday night, with clear, cold weather and a low temperature of about 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Severe weather could continue into Monday and Tuesday, as well.

"We're taking this severe cold snap seriously. We're declaring a state of emergency to assist the opening of warming shelters that will respond to this weather emergency and support our most needy,” said Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. “This will also make transit free and raise awareness of dangerous and life-threatening conditions across the County. Please seek shelter, check on your neighbors, share information and volunteer at one of our shelters if you can." 

Leaders from the County, the City of Portland, and partner agencies make a daily determination of whether severe weather shelters will open, using the most up-to-date forecast from the National Weather Service.

Check back at for the latest hours, locations and updates as conditions change.

Warming Shelters and Free Transportation

County and City employees, along with Do Good Multnomah and Cultivate Initiatives, will staff the four severe weather shelters starting Saturday night with about 200 beds, but with capacity to scale up quickly.

The four shelters will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, as temperatures are forecast to rise during the daytime. Officials are preparing and planning for the days ahead and shelters will open as long as thresholds are met.

For up-to-date information on which sites are open, visit the County’s Care for When It's Cold webpage.

People planning to use TriMet to get to  a warming shelter should check at and let the driver they are headed to a warm place.

Joint Office offers ongoing shelter and outreach

The Joint Office of Homeless Services operates shelters year-round for people experiencing homelessness. There are more year-round shelter beds – congregate beds, motel rooms and sleeping pods – available now than before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Throughout the winter months, outreach workers contracted by the Joint Office of Homeless Services distribute lifesaving cold-weather supplies to people who are unsheltered.

In preparation for this severe weather event, the Joint Office has activated its cold weather street outreach program, directing providers to find neighbors without shelter and bring them shelter information, gear and supplies.

Enhanced distribution of gear started Thursday, Jan. 26, and will continue through this emergency activation. Since Jan. 26 alone, outreach workers have distributed 1,375 pairs of socks; 1,100 ponchos, blankets, hand warmers and mylar bags; 725 tarps; 670 sleeping bags;  660 warm hats and pairs of gloves; 220 hoodies and sweatpants; 295 tents; and 108 cases of water.

For those needing a place to warm up during the day, all Multnomah County Library branches (except for Holgate and Midland, which are closed for construction) will be open regular hours. Libraries will be open until 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

County, city officials jointly determine response

Multnomah County and City of Portland officials — in consultation with Emergency Management, Health Department, County Human Services, Joint Office of Homeless Services and National Weather Service experts —  have been meeting since Wednesday, Jan. 25, to prepare for the possibility of dangerously cold weather.

Severe weather shelters open as needed when any of the following thresholds are met for any one of the conditions below that are forecasted to persist for four (4) hours or more between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.:

  • Forecasted temperature of 25° F or below
  • Forecasted snow accumulation of 1 inch or more over a 24-hour period.
  • Forecasted temperature at or below 32° F (0° C) with 1 inch or more of rain and with sustained winds greater than 10 mph overnight.

Even when the County and City’s shared severe weather thresholds aren't met — but when overnight temperatures are forecast at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, for roughly four hours or longer — the Joint Office issues a "cold weather alert."

Beyond expanded outreach to deliver cold-weather gear, providers share information on resources and system shelter capacity. Overflow shelter capacity is made available to outreach workers, who can refer people in need.

Support People Living Outside

If you see someone about whom you are concerned during cold weather, such as an individual who is not dressed warmly enough for the weather conditions, call the City of Portland’s non-emergency response line at 503-823-3333 and request a welfare check.

If someone outside is unsheltered and their life appears to be in danger, call 9-1-1. 

Winter weather is especially dangerous for anyone experiencing houselessness, and can also pose a greater risk for older adults and people with disabilities.

Stay Informed and Check on Neighbors

Emergency managers and the Multnomah County Health Officer are advising all community members to get ready. Check on your neighbors: Please knock on the door, make the call, let people know if you’re going to the store, and ask how you might help.

Care for When It’s Cold: Up-to-date information from Multnomah County on shelters, safety and support. Up-to-date info on weather conditions, available resources, where to find the nearest available shelter and transportation options. You can also find out where you can donate winter weather items to those who need them. Sign up for Severe Winter Weather alerts via email or text by going to 211info’s sign-up page.

National Weather Service: Check weather warnings in the Portland Metro area.

Public Alerts: Sign up to get emergency alerts about safety concerns in your area.

TriMet Alerts: Check for winter weather advisories.

ODOT TripCheck: The Oregon Department of Transportation TripCheck site updates Oregon road conditions and streams live roadside video.


Media Contact:

Julia Comnes,

Sarah Dean,