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Winter storm watch starts Friday

Another round of cold, wet weather is headed to southwest Oregon and Northern California, with three-quarters of an inch of rain forecast for parts of the Rogue Valley and close to two feet of snow at Crater Lake National Park, the National Weather Service reported.

A low pressure system pushing ashore from the Pacific Ocean is expected to produce back-to-back cold fronts for the Pacific Northwest. Wintry weather is expected to last through the weekend.

A winter storm watch was issued from early Friday morning through early Saturday morning due to a “potent” weather system that’s expected to bring heavy snow and strong winds to elevations above 5,000 feet, according to a Weather Service bulletin.

Snow accumulations of 10 to 20 inches were forecast for parts of the Southern Cascades, with six to 10 inches possible near Lake of the Woods and on Mount Ashland. Wind gusts of 50 to 70 mph are possible at higher elevations. Highways 62, 140, 230 and 138 are expected to see heavy snow and high winds, as is Mt. Ashland Ski Road.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the bulletin said. “Very strong winds could cause extensive tree damage and reduce visibility below one quarter of a mile at times. Blowing and drifting snow is also possible.”

Drivers should prepare emergency kits to keep in their vehicles with tire chains, a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, food, water and medications. Travel during the storm is discouraged.

Winds in Rogue and Shasta valleys aren’t expected to be severe as in the mountains.

“The highest I see is gusts of 12 mph,” said meteorologist Miles Bliss. “Nothing crazy.”

By Saturday morning, up to three-quarters of an inch of rain is forecast to soak parts of the Rogue Valley, with the heaviest precipitation expected to fall Thursday night through Friday, followed by come-and-go showers Saturday, Bliss said. Areas around the Crater Lake area could see up to 23 inches of new snow, with as much as 22 inches at Diamond Lake.

“That’ll really be the pattern for the foreseeable future,” Bliss said. “Just kind of light rains through next week.”

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