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Snow expected on passes Sunday and Monday, possibly on valley floor

Mount Ashland could get 1 to 2 feet of snow on its opening day Sunday and drivers likely will encounter troublesome snow on the passes as a cold front pushes in, sending snow levels plummeting through Monday.

Gusty winds could plague the Mt. Ashland Ski Area early in the morning, meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies said, but the winds should die down as the day wears on. 

Two to 3 feet of snow was expected at Crater Lake, 4 to 9 inches on the Siskiyou Summit and about 2 inches at Sexton Summit and Hayes Hill, Nelaimischkies said.

There is a better chance of snow falling on the valley floor Sunday night into Monday morning, he said.

"The really cold air comes in Sunday night," Nelaimischkies said.

"It'll be hit-and-miss because it'll be showery," he said. "It probably won't accumulate because our road surfaces are still really warm. That should help a lot."

Nelaimischkies said he was excited that Mt. Ashland was scheduled to open Sunday, especially after the mountain suffered closure in 2013 because of a lack of snow and was open only 38 days last year.

"I got new skis two years ago," he said. "I haven't been able to strap them on other than in the living room."

Three to 6 inches of snow is expected above 2,000 feet, with up to 2 inches possible between 1,000- and 2,000-foot elevations, the National Weather Service predicts. Residents planning to head over the passes are warned they may encounter heavy snow and poor visibility. 

A winter storm warning has been issued for 4 a.m. Sunday to 10 a.m. Monday in the higher elevations, which might also see gusty winds and possible whiteout conditions. "If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency," the warning states.

A winter weather advisory — meaning periods of snow and poor visibility are expected — has been issued for lower elevations. "Use caution while driving," the advisory states.

The cold front is blowing in from the Gulf of Alaska, said senior meteorologist Tom Wright.

As much as 2 inches of rain is expected Saturday night as the current storm continues to push through. The Rogue River isn't expected to flood, Wright said, but there could be localized flooding and standing water on roads.

"The good news is, the reservoirs are filling up," he said.

A flood watch is in effect for southwestern Oregon through Sunday night, particularly for the coast.

The current series of storms produced the biggest hail in Gold Beach recorded by the weather service — 1⅜ inches in diameter — on Thursday. "This is the largest confirmed hail report we've ever received from Curry County in any month, and it is the largest hail report we've ever received anywhere in our forecast area in December," the Medford weather office posted on its Facebook page.