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Drier weather expected over weekend

Heavy snow in mountain areas hit the region today and snow was expected on the valley floor sometime during the night, but the winter weather will give way to generally drier conditions over the Christmas weekend.

"In terms of weather, we should start to see things wind down tonight," Mike Petrucelli, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Medford, said today.

Even if snow hits the valley floor Friday night, it likely will be only 1 to 2 inches and conditions should improve by 8 or 9 a.m. Saturday when temperatures start to rise, Petrucelli said.

Motorists heading northbound on Interstate 5 should be extra cautious heading over the passes, and the same precautions should be taken over the Siskiyou Summit, he said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation recommends carrying chains as you head into any mountainous area in the winter.

Even though the storm system that dumped rain in Medford Friday should dissipate by Saturday morning, Petrucelli said be prepared to encounter snow flurries at higher elevations through the day.

"Be mindful that you could run into winter-like conditions on the road," he said. "Maintain a longer distance between you and the car in front of you."

Low temperatures should creep down into the 20s at night through the weekend.

Drier weather is in the forecast through Monday as many travelers start heading home after the Christmas weekend, Petrucelli said.

Today, ODOT required chains or traction tires in the Diamond Lake area as snow continued to fall and temperatures hovered around 28.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.