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Snow possible in area passes Thanksgiving week

If you're planning to travel outside Jackson County next week for Thanksgiving, just know you may have to tangle with some snow en route to your destination. 

The week is forecast to kick off with the coldest air mass of the season thus far, and that could mean snow on the passes.

"We could be seeing snow showers just above the valley floor," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Sandler. "There are a lot of 'ifs' here, but we're confident a strong front will come through Monday night."

Weather Service officials expect the temperature to drop Monday night into Tuesday morning. A rain-snow mix is forecast to accompany, and snow could dust the hills and area passes, including Sexton and Siskiyou. 

"Steady, moderate precipitation is possible starting Monday night into Tuesday morning, with a cold showery air mass and sharply lowering snow levels Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday," a special statement from the Weather Service reads. 

The precipitation should start winding down by Wednesday, with a Thanksgiving forecast of sunny and cold, Sandler said.

Weather officials said snow on the higher passes such as Siskiyou is likely, with light snow possible on the lower passes between Grants Pass and Roseburg, and light snows on Highway 199 around Hayes Hill, and from O'Brien down to the California border. This could make for slippery conditions for drivers, but Oregon Department of Transportation officials say they are prepared with a medley of tools to reduce the ice. 

"We're locked and loaded. We're ready to go," ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said.

Crews would use salt on the Siskiyou Pass, with sand and de-icer on the Sexton, Stage and Smith summits further up Interstate 5. ODOT officials recommended preparing for the drive with chains, snacks, water, a full tank of gas, blankets, necessary medications and plentiful entertainment for children. Drivers should also give themselves extra time to reach their destination. 

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