A storm system bringing two rounds of snow is expected to hit Oregon’s Cascade Range passes this weekend, bringing the possibility of 1 or 2 feet of snow.
The storm should bring snow even to lower elevations, as low as 2,500 feet, said meteorologist Shawn Weagle with the National Weather Service in Portland.
“There is still some uncertainty, but this is looking like a pretty good dump of snow,” he said.
That’s good news for those who enjoy winter recreation, but it could also snarl traffic. Last weekend, snow on the mountain passes combined with big crowds around Mount Hood brought traffic to a standstill around Government Camp.
The heavy snow is expected to begin Saturday afternoon and at first drop mostly on pass levels above 4,000 feet, with the snow level gradually dropping through the night.
The first round of snow should bring around 6 to 12 inches.
The biggest impacts will be on Cascade passes, including U.S. Highway 22 on Santiam Pass, Highway 26 near Government Camp and Highway 58 on Willamette Pass.
The second still is somewhat more difficult to predict, because it could move south toward California, Weagle said. But right now, forecasters anticipate another 6 to 12 inches possible between Sunday afternoon and evening, with an additional 3 to 5 inches possible Monday.
“That second storm could be on the low or high end — we’ll have a better idea as we get into the weekend,” Weagle said.
The second storm should bring the lowest snow levels, said Weagle, with 4 to 8 inches possible as low as 3,000 feet.
“It’s a lock that we’re going to see a good amount of snow on the passes, the question is about that second storm and whether it stays on track to hit us, or ducks south,” Weagle said.
Drivers should expect challenging conditions on the passes, especially Saturday and Sunday nights, and are encouraged to visit TripCheck.com before traveling.
Oregon’s snowpack is currently below average in the west — 60 to 70 percent of normal in the Cascades — but fairly close to normal in eastern Oregon. This storm could boost that quite a lot, Weagle said.
As for the Willamette Valley and coast, rain and wind is forecast with possible high winds Saturday night.