Rain, mountain snow makes valley snow possible

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Mild Oregon weather will finally return to something akin to winter this weekend.

Rain and snow in the mountains are expected Saturday night and Sunday, and there’s a chance outside for snow from the valley as temperatures drop in cold midweek territory.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about the snow in the valley, but it seems unlikely there will be a major accumulation if that happens,” said Rebecca Muessle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

About a half inch of rain is projected over the weekend in the Willamette Valley. Monday evening currently projects the best chance of snow in the valley.

Even so, the cold could have a big impact on the Valley – especially on homeless populations – with temperatures expected to drop into the high 20s or teens on Tuesday evening.

“It’s not unusual because it’s still February, but it will be much colder than before,” she said.

A winter weather watch predicts up to 20 inches of snow expected at Cascades Pass, mostly above 3,000 feet.

10 to 20 inches of snow are expected between Saturday evening, Sunday and Sunday evening at the passes, with the heaviest accumulations centered in the Mount Hood area, and somewhat less near the Santiam and Willamette passes.

“Heavy snow can make travel very difficult at times this weekend, even through mountain passes such as Highway 26 near the government camp and Highway 20 at Santiam Pass,” according to winter storm watch.

Rain and snow are much needed after a prolonged hot and dry spell, mainly due to a high pressure ridge off the Oregon coast that caused Pacific storms to bounce north from January to a large part of February.

This left rivers and streams lower than normal.

“The high pressure is finally eroding,” Muessle said. “I know a lot of people were waiting for this.”

The long term forecast indicates that additional wet weather could arrive by next weekend, but this remains uncertain at this time.

Zach Urness has been an outdoor journalist in Oregon for 15 years and is the 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 [email protected] or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.

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