Snowfall that cloaked Ashland in white Tuesday morning closed schools and created treacherous driving conditions on the Siskiyou Pass, and more is expected later this week, meteorologists say.
Snow that was expected overnight should turn to rain by 10 a.m. today, giving a brief respite before another storm moves in. Its arrival is expected to bring snow near 1,000 feet Thursday night — low enough to blanket most of the Rogue Valley floor, said Brett Lutz, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Medford.
Some of Ashland could see up to 31/2 inches, though most areas will get 1 to 2 inches when that storm hits, Lutz said.
"For people in Ashland, it should be pretty minimal below the boulevard. People living on the hillside, above the boulevard, are going to see accumulating snow at times," he said.
The weather service issued a wind advisory warning of gusts up to 50 mph tonight, and a winter weather advisory is in effect 4 a.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday because of falling and blowing snow.
Siskiyou Summit is expected to get up to a foot of snow Thursday afternoon into early Friday morning, said meteorologist Tom Wright. The Cascades and Siskiyous, including Mount Ashland, could get up to 2 feet that night.
The 1 to 2 inches of snow that fell on Ashland Monday night and Tuesday morning, paired with below 30-degree temperatures, contributed to a handful of fender-benders across town, but no injuries were reported, authorities said.
"We had a couple slideouts and some damaged vehicles, said Dave Shepherd, a battalion chief for Ashland Fire & Rescue. "A few were towed, but no injuries. We were fortunate."
In an effort to get ahead of the icy roads, four Ashland city pickup trucks that had been converted to snow plows, a road grader and sanding truck started working arterial streets at 10 p.m. Monday, said John Peterson, Street Department supervisor.
Plowing and sanding Ashland's streets continued until about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, he said.
"We concentrate, of course, on the hospital and our arterial streets coming through town, and our schools," Peterson said. "Then we get into the collector streets that come down into our arterials, then eventually we make it up into the residential areas."
Many of Ashland residential streets were not plowed or sanded before temperatures began to thaw the ice by 11 a.m., Peterson said.
Some residents, in a neighborhood east of North Mountain Avenue, reported that they were stranded at home without traction tires, four-wheel-drive or chains to cope with two steep, slick hills — East Nevada Street and Fair Oaks Avenue — leading out of their neighborhood.
Lutz expected an inch or less of snow to accumulate in Ashland today before the snowfall turns to rain.
"Drive slow," Peterson said. "If you think it's slick, it probably is, and chains are always a good idea."
The Oregon Department of Transportation is requiring motorists to carry chains or traction tires before they traverse Interstate 5 over the Siskiyou Summit.
Starting tonight, up to 18 inches of snow are expected to fall there by Saturday morning, Lutz said.
More than 40 spinouts were reported on state highways throughout Southern Oregon Tuesday morning, said Gary Leaming, an ODOT spokesperson.
"Motorists should just keep in mind that conditions can change from minute to minute, from hour to hour," he said. "Leave with plenty of time to get to your destination and slow down."
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.