Heavy snow will blast Oregon’s mountain roads while the Willamette Valley will have a good chance of sticking snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
The system could bring school delays or cancellations, particularly in the hills and higher elevations on the edge of the valley, and into the foothills around 700 feet to 1,000 feet.
The Willamette Valley’s lowest elevations are most likely to see just a dusting to 1 inch of snow, with those numbers rising in the hills and higher elevations in cities such as Portland, Salem and Eugene.
“On the valley floor it looks like an inch at worst, with a lot of people seeing flakes but not accumulation,” National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Kranz said. “But that changes in a hurry once you got up just a little ways in elevation.”
Kranz said elevations above 700 to 800 feet could see around 1 to 3 inches of snow, with even more forecast around 1,000 feet. That could bring significant impact to towns in the Cascade and Coast Range foothills such as Mill City, Oakridge or the McKenzie Bridge area.
“At that point you have the impact just because we’re likely to have snow-covered roads,” Kranz said.
In higher elevation towns such as Detroit, around 1,500 feet, around 5 to 7 inches of snow will be possible while anything above 2,500 feet could see up to a foot.
On Oregon’s highest mountain passes — such as Santiam Pass (Highway 20), Willamette Pass and Government Camp (Highway 26) — around 1 to 2 feet of snow is forecast.
Travel through the mountains is likely to be very challenging given that snow will be sticking to roadways beginning at fairly low elevations, making travel from Salem or Eugene to Central Oregon hazardous at best.
Beyond Wednesday, temperatures are expected to stay chilly and there will be a chance for more low-elevation snow but it looks less likely than the Tuesday-Wednesday system, Kranz said.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.