Holiday travelers may get a brief respite today, but the National Weather Service expects the next storm to hit Southern Oregon Sunday morning or early afternoon, bringing more snow and hazardous driving conditions.
Snow levels are predicted to hover at 2,000 to 2,500 feet tonight, said Mike Ottenweller, meteorologist with the weather service in Medford. Another 2 inches of snow are expected to accumulate at the Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5 tonight and another 3 to 6 inches are forecast for the Mount Shasta City area, said Ottenweller. To the north, 1 to 3 inches of snow are expected to fall at I-5's Sexton Summit.
"With tomorrow's storm, that is going to be the bigger one," Ottenweller said. "We're looking at another 5-8 inches Sunday during the day and early Monday morning on the Siskiyou Summit.
"Mount Shasta should get another foot in that time frame — that's where we expect the biggest impact on travel. Travel will not only be dangerous, but much slower than people anticipate with the likelihood of road closures."
Mt. Ashland Ski Area received 20 inches of fresh powder in the last 24 hours, as it continues to snow moderately on the mountain.
Meteorologists are expecting gusty winds between 20 mph and 30 mph Sunday at high elevations and east of the Cascades. The snow may have a heavier density as well, possibly bringing down more power lines over the weekend.
"This next storm is going to have more wind than the one we had Thursday night that dumped so much in Josephine County," said Ottenweller.
Monday is expected to be dry, but it may be a white Christmas as another storm is predicted to make its way into the valley on Tuesday.
"More to come on that one," said Ottenweller. "There's still a lot of weather to get to before we get to Christmas Day."
Meanwhile, many rural areas of Southern Oregon are still without power as the melting snow causes tree branches to fall on lines. Some Pacific Power crews have had to return to areas previously repaired, said Monte Mendenhall, regional community manager. Nearly 9,000 in Josephine County and 500 in Rogue River are still without power. About 32 lack electricity in Jackson County.
"Some trees have blocked roadways," said Mendenhall. "It's been a bit of a slow go due to the nature of this storm."
About 3,500 customers in Merlin, Sunny Valley and Glendale and about 1,500 in the Selma and Cave Junction areas are without power, Mendenhall said. Pacific Power has about 150 crew members working to restore power in Josephine County, he said.
Redding, Calif., city crews are assisting Pacific Power in working to restore outages to the nearly 1,800 people without power in Siskiyou County.
— Mandy Valencia