A winter storm will drop as much as a foot of snow on parts of the Cascade Range tonight into Saturday morning, which could impact travel for motorists heading over the mountain passes, weather officials said.
"This is a pretty strong front," said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ottenweller.
Areas impacted the heaviest will be the Northern Cascades, Highway 140, Lake of the Woods, Howard Prairie, Crater Lake and Diamond Lake, all of which could receive up to a foot of new snow by Saturday.
"There could be a few spots that get up to 18 inches," Ottenweller said.
During the storm's peak hours, weather officials predict snow will fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour for elevations 5,000 feet and above.
"That's pretty intense snowfall," Ottenweller said.
The heavy precipitation and predicted 25 mph winds mean an increased chance for potential avalanches, he added.
The Siskiyou Summit, Mount Ashland and Highway 66 at Greensprings could receive up to 5 inches of snow. Areas at 2,000 feet and above could receive up to 3 inches by Saturday morning.
Motorists driving over mountain passes are urged to exercise caution. Travel on a full tank of gas, take water and snacks and tire chains, and have a fully charged cell phone.
The mountain snow will amount to mostly rain on the valley floors, as snow levels are expected to drop to about 1,500 feet by Saturday morning.
"We're going to have a showery pattern through the morning hours," Ottenweller said. "That's kind of when we're expecting the west side locations above 2,000 feet to pick up that 1 to 3 inches."
The precipitation looks to dissipate by early Saturday afternoon with a drying trend into Sunday, when high temperatures in the Rogue Valley could reach the mid 50s.
"And it looks like a good amount of sunshine," Ottenweller said.
Another weaker storm system is expected by Monday, with snow levels set at above 4,000 feet. Weather officials expect Monday's front to move through quickly.
— Ryan Pfeil