A winter storm warning for heavy snow and high winds has been issued for Oregon mountain passes from early Sunday morning into Monday.
The weather could impact travelers heading between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But it will also give Oregon ski areas a boost as they prepare for potential openings next week.
A total of 12 to 19 inches of snow could fall mainly on mountain roads including Santiam Pass (Highway 20), Willamette Pass (Highway 58) and in the Government Camp area (Highway 26), according to the National Weather Service in Portland.
Snow levels will maintain around 3,000 to 3,500 feet most of Sunday, before falling as low as 1,000 to 2,000 feet Sunday night and Monday.
High winds and blowing snow is also forecast, mainly Sunday and into Monday, with winds reaching 45 mph.
“Heaviest snow Sunday afternoon through Monday morning,” NWS wrote in the warning. “Travel could be very difficult.
“Make sure your emergency travel kit contains warm clothes, blankets, a flashlight, food & water,” the agency added on Twitter.
Next week could see significant low-elevation snow, with snow possible in the Cascade Foothills and potentially flurries impacting the Willamette Valley, although it’s too early to project how much or how low snow will fall.
What about southern Oregon?
A winter weather watch also has been issued for southwest Oregon, but it arrives later Sunday and into Monday.
Mountain highways in the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains could see 3 to 8 inches of snow above 2,500 feet including near Crater Lake, Howard Prairie, Prospect, Union Creek, Toketee Falls, Diamond Lake, and portions of Highways 138, 62, 230, 140, 227, 58, and Dead Indian Memorial Highway.
Those will include I-5 on the Oregon-California state line and the mountain highways between Medford and Klamath Falls.
Will ski areas open?
Mount Hood Meadows, Mount Bachelor and Timberline Lodge have announced plans to open ski operations in some capacity next week if the forecasted snow arrives as expected.
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.