If you've been hoping for snow in the Rogue Valley, there's a good chance you'll get your wish as December starts.
An Arctic cold front is drifting toward Jackson County, bringing chilly air and a sharp drop in snow levels that will start Sunday night. But because its arrival will coincide with the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, weather and travel officials are warning motorists to be cautious on the roads during the drive home.
"Don't be in a hurry," said Gary Leaming, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman. "Definitely leave plenty of time to get to your destination. Just be in the mindset that you'll eventually get there, but you may get there a little late."
Snow levels are expected to drop down to about 3,000 feet on the night of Sunday, Dec. 1, still above the valley floor's elevation of 1,300 feet. That means rain for Medford and Ashland Sunday night. The precipitation is predicted to change into a mix of rain and snow Monday night, with snow on the valley floor by Tuesday.
"Once it gets down there, it's going to stay awhile," said Jay Stockton, National Weather Service meteorologist.
High temperatures will drop into the mid- to high 30s Tuesday and Wednesday.
Weather officials expect the Siskiyou Pass will be hit by the snowfall, along with several of the lower elevation passes along Interstate 5 and west side coastal ranges.
"It's going to affect travel," Stockton said. "It's going to be a hit-and-miss, on-and-off kind of thing."
ODOT officials are ready for the snow and crews will prepare higher-elevation roads with pre-treatment deicers.
"We're ready," Leaming said. "Currently, we do have our night crews on for the winter."
Leaming added being prepared before hitting the road can make trips this weekend smoother. Motorists should pack water, snacks, blankets, necessary medications and games for young passengers. Tire chains should be in the vehicle. ODOT officials also urged drivers to use www.tripcheck.com to see current road conditions before driving.
— Ryan Pfeil