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Wet, snowy weather could hamper travel

An “unusually cold and wet” weather system is expected to push into parts of southwest Oregon Thursday night, bringing as much as 2 feet of new snow at higher elevations by the weekend.

“We have a pretty good stream of moisture coming into the area,” National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle Cohen said.

Close to an inch of rain is expected on the Rogue Valley floor by Saturday, Weather Service officials said.

The cold front is expected to rapidly drop snow levels to about 1,500 feet, where they will fluctuate between 1,500 and 2,500 feet through Friday night.

“At the same time, a rich plume of Pacific moisture will take aim at the area,” an NWS bulletin reads. “And the result will be very heavy snow in the mountains.”

Josephine, Curry and western Siskiyou counties are expected to be the hardest hit, with several feet of new snow possible. Heavy snowfall is also expected over the Cascades and the Mount Shasta area, the bulletin says.

Accumulations of 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected along several area passes by Saturday, including Sexton, Stage and Smith. Anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of snow is forecast on the Siskiyou Summit.

“Really, the main concern is if you’re traveling,” Cohen said.

Close to 20 inches of snow could fall at Diamond Lake and Lake of the Woods during the same time period, with as much as 2 feet at Crater Lake and the top of Mount Ashland. Heavy snow is also expected around the Illinois Valley area toward the Oregon Coast.

“The surrounding mountains should get a lot of snow,” Cohen said.

Not much snow is expected along the valley floor, but area residents could see some “slushy accumulations” at times, officials said.

— Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468.