The winter storm was slowly releasing its icy grip Saturday on parts of the Portland area.

Power was being restored to utility customers throughout the region, where up to 23,000 customers served by three utilities were without power Saturday afternoon, primarily because of power lines snapped by ice-weighted tree branches. As many as 37,000 customers in those utilities’ service areas were without power Saturday morning.

The two-storm’s grip was strongest on the region’s east side and especially in the Columbia River Gorge. All lanes of Interstate 84, eastbound and westbound, were closed Saturday morning from Troutdale to Hood River, because of icy conditions.

About 14,000 Portland General Electric customers – 13,000 of them in Multnomah County — remained without power. Earlier Saturday, power was out for 37,000 PGE customers. Pacific Power reported on its website that 6,145 customers were without power in the afternoon, down about 1,000 from earlier in the day. And Clark Public Utilities, which serves Vancouver, reported nearly 1,500 without power in the afternoon, a slight spike from earlier in the day.

“It’s pretty wild out there,” PGE spokesman Steve Corson said Saturday morning. “Last night, quite a bit of that accumulated ice weighed down and all of these frozen limbs started to drop.” Corson said the agency did not have a projection of when power would be restored.

Downed power lines and ice-covered overhead wires on the east side that disrupted MAX service severely Saturday morning had moderated by the afternoon. The transit agency reported at 1 p.m. that it was close to fully restoring MAX service.

MAX Blue Line between Gateway Transit Center and Cleveland Avenue, and MAX Green Line between Gateway and Clackamas Town Center are disrupted. Shuttle buses are providing service to stations in those disrupted areas. Riders should expect major MAX delays system wide until regular service is restored. Some bus lines are detoured or canceled due to road conditions and downed trees/power lines. Buses on a few lines remain chained and can only travel 25 mph. The agency advised riders to plan extra time and check

About 100 people were stuck on a MAX train for at least three hours Friday night after a power line fell on the tracks near Interstate 84 and Interstate 205, KATU reported. Portland firefighters freed the passengers.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation reported that these streets were closed Saturday because of downed power lines, downed trees and other debris in the roads: Northwest Skyline from the Portland city limits to Highway 26; Northwest Cornell from Skyline to Northwest 30th; Northwest 53rd from Thompson to Cornell; Northwest Germantown Road from Bridge Avenue to Skyline.

The Oregon Zoo was closed Saturday because of icy conditions in the West Hills, thus putting its popular Zoo Lights off limits until at least Sunday.

Eight flights — six on Southwest and two on Alaska Airlines — had been canceled Saturday morning at Portland International Airport. No other cancellations were reported on the airport’s website.

Earlier Saturday, the National Weather Service had predicted a high of 46. That target was reduced to 42, with a likelihood of rain throughout the day. Rain and showers were projected for Sunday with a forecast high of 46.

“We feel pretty strongly that things will moderate today and we’ll be quite a bit warmer as we go through the day,” hydrologist Andy Bryant said Saturday morning. “But it’s been a tricky one. We’ve been waiting for this warm air to show up.”

–Allan Brettman