A cold front expected to move into the region tonight could drop up to a foot of snow on the Cascade and Siskiyou mountain ranges and bring winds of up to 20 mph.
A winter weather advisory by the National Weather Service Thursday said at least a foot of snow is possible over much of the range, with Diamond Lake and Crater Lake areas receiving as much as 18 inches.
"They're going to get hit pretty hard," National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Petrucelli said of the higher elevations.
The advisory is in effect from 10 tonight to 10 a.m. Saturday. Winter weather advisories are issued for periods of snowfall that will hinder travel because of poor road conditions and limited visibility.
Precipitation is predicted to start as rain and will gradually change to snow. Snow accumulations of up to 3 inches are expected for elevations above 2,000 feet, with southwest winds reaching 20 mph and 30-mph gusts. Up to 4 inches are predicted to fall on the Siskiyou Pass.
"A lot of that will occur in a short period of time," Petrucelli said.
Other major roads expected to receive heavy snowfall include parts of Highway 238 in the Applegate, Highway 62 toward Prospect and Highway 140 toward Klamath Falls.
Snow levels could drop to between 1,000 and 1,500 feet in northern Josephine and Douglas counties. For the Rogue Valley floor, the cold front will deliver rain. Parts of Ashland could receive up to an inch of snow, but most likely will see a dusting.
"You could see a rain and snow mix," Petrucelli said.
A brief reprieve from the wet weather is predicted for Sunday, with a chance for additional showers Sunday evening.
Motorists traveling on major highways into the weekend are urged to drive carefully and allow extra time to reach their destinations. They also should travel with full gas tanks, and carry water, snacks and fully charged cellphones.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.