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Snow makes travel difficult on highway passes

Heavy snow was causing problems along the I-5 corridor Saturday morning at Siskiyou Summit and the summits north of Grants Pass, including Canyon Pass and Rice Hill.

The National Weather Service says drivers should expect delays, chain requirements and possible temporary closures at these locations for the next several days.

Snow is expected to blanket the region through Tuesday. The National Weather Service predicts two fronts that will bring heavy snow to the passes and even drop a couple of inches to the Rogue Valley floor.

Heavy snow has been reported Saturday morning at upper elevations in the Siskiyous and Cascades, and Siskiyou County in Northern California was being pummeled by heavy snows that obscured visibility. Parts of the Rogue Valley have also received snow, with more expected.

The first weather front is predicted to last until Sunday afternoon, Brian Nieuwenhuis, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford, said Friday. A second front is predicted to move in Monday morning and continue through Tuesday.

Passes along Interstate 5, from Siskiyou Summit in the south to beyond Canyon Mountain Pass in the north, will see at least a foot of snow by the end of the storms, Nieuwenhuis said. Eastward, in the heights of the Cascades, snow will likely be measured in feet rather than inches, he said.

“This is going to be a significant contribution to mountain snowpack,” he said. “That’s very good news.”

Nieuwenhuis said weekend travelers who are preparing to brave the passes should expect chain restrictions and possible closures. For those who can’t avoid travel, he stressed the importance of keeping a survival kit that includes a full tank of gas, a full battery charge on your cellphone, food and water, blankets and a shovel.

Up to four inches of snow is expected in the Portland metropolitan area Sunday.

Temperatures are expected to hover around freezing into next week, leaving transportation officials worried about icy roads even after the snow stops.

Shelves at grocery stores were picked over by Friday afternoon, with customers parking a block away in some locations because the parking lot was full.

School districts preemptively canceled weekend sporting events and activities and a Portland-area vaccine clinic for school children was also canceled.

Charities put out a public plea for donations of cold weather clothes and gear for the homeless.

In Salem, organizers asked for volunteers to staff emergency warming shelters.