Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:23 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.
A winter weather warning says Salem, Eugene and the rest of the central and southern Willamette Valley are likely to see snow on Wednesday — but mostly above 500 feet.
Those higher elevations, in places such as South Salem and in the hills of Eugene, are forecast to see two to four inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service in Portland.
In the lower elevations of the Willamette Valley, a dusting to one inch of snow is most likely.
The warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Wednesday to 4 a.m. Thursday.
More snow is also likely in rural areas on the edge of the Willamette Valley and in the Cascade and Coast Range foothills, in towns such as Mill City, Oakridge and McKenzie Bridge between 500 and 1,000 feet.
There could be enough snow to cause school delays or cancelations, meteorologists said, especially in rural areas outside of town.
“For the Willamette Valley, I’d say it’s unlikely that this causes a major, widespread disruption, but we could see some schools delayed or canceled,” NWS hydrologist Andy Bryant said. “It’s going to depend on how much snow sticks to the roads. In general, the higher you get into the hills of the cities, the more likely the snow is to stick.”
The greatest impact is forecast to be above 1,000 feet, into the higher foothills in towns such as Detroit, where anywhere from four to 12 inches will be possible. Mountain roads will be hardest hit, with elevations above 2,500 feet seeing anywhere from one to two feet.
Salem and especially Eugene are a bit more likely to see snow than the Portland metro area because the track of moisture is aimed more at the central and southern parts of Oregon, Bryant said.
Some mountain highways, including U.S. Highway 20, were impacted by snow Tuesday. Highway 20 shut down multiple times Tuesday due to crashes.
“The biggest impact would be for people trying to travel over the Coast Range or the Cascades because there will be major snow accumulations there and difficulty getting over those roads,” Bryant 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.