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Snow expected for Southern Oregon passes today

A quick-hitting Christmas Eve day snowstorm is headed for parts of Southern Oregon and Northern California today, with several new inches of snow expected to fall on nearby mountain passes.

A winter weather advisory will be in effect for the higher elevations from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

The National Weather Service reported heavier rain and snow are expected to start falling over the Cascades and Siskiyous between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, with snow levels dropping about 2,000 feet by early afternoon. A graphic from the Weather Service shows more than seven inches could fall at Lake of the Woods, with more than four expected on the Siskiyou Pass above Ashland. Dead Indian Memorial Road could see close to six inches, and Crater Lake and Diamond Lake are predicted to see more than five inches.

The sudden, quick-hitting snowfall is expected to cover certain roads and make them slippery for motorists. Christmas Eve travelers are urged to allow extra time to reach their destinations, carry chains and allow for extra space between vehicles. Highways 66, 140, 62, 138 and 230 will all likely be affected, as will Interstate 5 from the Siskiyou Pass south to Mt. Shasta City, Calif.

"The change over from rain to snow will be quite abrupt and a 1- to 3-hour period of moderate to heavy snow will be enough to overcome initially warm road surfaces," an advisory from the Weather Service reads.

Meteorologist Ken Sargeant said some additional showers of mixed rain and snow are possible Christmas day, with snow levels dropping to between 1,500 to 2,000 feet. More snow is expected to be sprinkled in the foothills, along with parts of Ashland and Talent.

"I wouldn't put it out of the question for Medford seeing a few snowflakes from these showers," Sargeant said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.