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Another winter storm rolling in this evening

Another storm like the one that closed mountain highways in Southern Oregon and Northern California and delayed classes at Rogue River schools Wednesday is predicted to sweep across the region tonight.

"We have another round of fun coming through," said Sven Nelaimischkies, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Medford office.

The forecast said the next winter storm will be "remarkably similar" to the one that left people in some places digging out Wednesday. However, it could dump even more snow in the mountains.

A strong cold front moved through Southern Oregon and Northern California Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning. While only a trace of precipitation fell at the weather service's office at the Medford airport, 7 inches of snow fell on Mount Ashland and 8 inches were reported in the hills southwest of Grants Pass.

Rogue River schools opened two hours late because of the weather, and some Central Point school bus routes didn't run.

Heavy snow in the mountains north of Grants Pass — including over Sexton Mountain Pass, Smith Hill Summit and Stage Road Pass — closed Interstate 5 between Hugo and Glendale for about an hour Wednesday morning. It reopened by 9:30 a.m.

The Siskiyou Summit was closed for roughly three hours. Even after Oregon Department of Transportation crews cleared the freeway over the pass, California transportation officials asked that Oregon continue to delay travelers until the route through Northern California could be dug out, ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said. All travel resumed by noon Wednesday.

The storm brought high winds and as much as a foot of snow to places in Siskiyou County, the National Weather Service reported. McCloud and Dunsmuir each reported 12 inches of snow, while points around Mount Shasta saw between 4 and 8 inches. Mount Shasta Ski Park reported 12 inches of fresh powder on the slopes.

Northern California and the Siskiyous and Cascades in Southern Oregon likely will receive the brunt of the next storm, too, Nelaimischkies said.

Another low-pressure system will move inland late this afternoon. The weather service has issued a winter storm watch for the Southern Oregon Cascades and Siskiyous, where 8 to 15 inches of snow could pile up by Friday morning.

Another 6 to 12 inches is expected around Mount Shasta, and upper elevations in western Siskiyou County could get 15 inches of snow.

"Travel will be difficult," Nelaimischkies said.

In the Rogue Valley, not much snow is likely to accumulate below 2,000 feet. One to 2 inches could fall around Ashland and in the foothills east of Medford, he said.

Despite the cold, wet weather, snow hasn't stacked up in the valley because a span of relatively warm weather before this week's string of storms warmed the soil, Nelaimischkies explained. Soil temperatures taken at 2 and 4 inches underground last week were in the 40s, so snowflakes melted soon after settling.

The next storm will be colder and moister than the last, the forecast said. There's an 80 percent chance of precipitation tonight with lows lingering near freezing in the valley. The chance of rain or snow tapers off Friday, but temperatures will hover in the 30s through the day. The longer term forecast calls for continued cool, showery weather into early next week.