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Holiday travel through Jan. 2 is expected to rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels.
In Oregon, more than 1.3 million are expected to travel by car and another 137,000 will fly to their holiday destination, according to AAA’s annual travel forecast.
Roads are expected to be full and airports busy. Predictions for snow in the Willamette Valley, Portland and mountain passes could mean delays and dangerous conditions.
Check here for the latest updates on weather, traffic and airport conditions you might encounter this holiday weekend.
Follow holiday coverage by Statesman Journal reporters here.
The National Weather Service said an Arctic front stalled across west-central Washington is expected to drift south overnight Sunday and bring very cold temperatures across northwest Oregon and to far southwest Washington.
Overnight low temperatures across inland valleys will reach the upper teens to lower 20s around sunrise.
“Any residual liquid surface water will freeze to result in icy conditions and potentially hazardous travel conditions, especially where roads have remained untreated,” the NWS said. “Additionally, even light snowfall on top of the ice will make conditions worse.”
Snow accumulation overnight in the Salem areas is expected to be less than an inch. Monday, the forecast calls for partly sunny weather with a high of 33 degrees. There is a 30% chance of snow after 4 p.m. with less than a half-inch of new snow anticipated.
Temperatures are forecast to remain well below normal most of the week with overnight lows for most lower elevations remaining in the 20s and afternoon highs struggling to “reach very far beyond the lower 30s, if at all,” according to the NWS.
Frostbite and hypothermia occur much faster in such cold weather.
“If outdoors, remember to dress in layers and cover exposed skin,” the NWS said, urging precautions to protect pets and livestock and making sure pipes are covered to prevent freezing and breaking.
Most major roads around Salem were cleared Sunday as crews from the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation plowed with a vengeance.
The city of Salem’s road conditions map offers information on priority and secondary snow routes. The information is based on the amount of traffic received.
The map can be filtered and zoomed in and out to find information about your area.
It can be found at:
The city said it will plow, sand and add deicer to city streets throughout Sunday night.
Drivers were asked to:
- Reduce speed and leave extra distance
- Use caution on sharp curves and expect longer stopping distances
- Give snowplows room and only pass if necessary
- Clear your vehicle of snow and ice
- Carry a shovel and sand or kitty litter for emergency traction assistance
- Keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle that includes a blanket, food, and water
Closures and delays:Mid-Willamette Valley closures for Monday due to winter weather
The National Weather Service is forecasting two more snowstorms over the Salem area through Thursday.
“We’re thinking Tuesday there’s a fair chance for a weaker snowstorm, it says less than a half an inch,” said NWS meteorological technician Gerald Macke. “And then Thursday, we’ll do it again with some low-elevation snow, not a lot again, probably less than a half of an inch.”
Overnight lows were expected to be in the 20s the rest of the week. And the snow that fell could hang around because daytime highs are forecast to barely and briefly edge above freezing through Thursday when it is predicted to finally rise to 40 degrees.
Macke said road conditions could be dangerous for the next few days, with black ice a major concern.
“Beware at night because this stuff, when it melts, it will definitely refreeze and it will be a lot smoother and shinier and slippier than when it fell the first time,” he said.
Significantly more snow fell outside of Salem.
“You don’t have to go far to get twice as much as you got in Salem,” Macke said.
Silver Falls State Park had 10 inches of snow by Sunday afternoon and the foothills of the Cascade Mountains got up to a foot, he said.
“If you go toward Willamina, Grande Ronde, that way, six inches is real common out there,” Macke said.
Several warming shelters will be open Sunday night throughout Salem and nearby, according to Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action.
The shelters are:
- Salem First Presbyterian, 770 Chemeketa Street NE, Salem, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- Safesleep, 1910 Front Street NE, Salem, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Women only.
- Union Gospel Mission, 777 Commercial Street NE, Salem, 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., Men only.
- Polk County Warming Center, 437 D. Street, Independence, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- Seed of Faith Outreach Ministries, 853 Medical Center Drive NE, Salem, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- InsideOut Refuge Warming Center, 1910 Front Street NE, Salem, 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., Families, single females and couples.
- Santiam Outreach Community Center, 280 NE Santiam Boulevard, Mill City, will remain open until temperatures reach 34 degrees.
Salem Police said the Marion Street Bridge was temporarily Sunday morning to allow the city’s public works to clear it, but it reopened by noon.
Police said officers responded to multiple collisions throughout the city Sunday due to icy conditions. They are advising people to remain at home and not drive if they don’t
Revelers don’t often wish for a white Boxing Day, but in Salem and most of western Oregon, that’s what they woke to the day after Christmas.
In some areas of Salem, up to three inches of snow accumulated by morning, bringing a calm to the post-holiday world.
The city of Salem advised people to avoid traveling if possible, and many took that advice.
Most major roads around Salem were clear as crews from the city and ODOT plowed with a vengeance.
Several minor traffic accidents, mostly involving cars getting stuck, were reported to TripCheck.
Heavier snow is reported is Eugene, where the city declared an ice/snow emergency a little before 8 a.m. Sunday because of “accumulating snow on city streets and hazardous conditions.”
There are at least a couple of inches on the ground already, and the National Weather Service forecast calls for another 3 to 5 inches and up to 7 inches south of Eugene.
In Southern Oregon, Interstate 5 slowed to a crawl as the area was pounded with snow.
The snow that fell could hang around: temperatures are forecast to barely and briefly edge above freezing through Thursday.
A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 a.m. Monday for much of western Oregon.
The National Weather Service anticipates snow to continue accumulating due to much colder temperatures through early Monday. Overnight, the low is forecast to be 21 degrees. Continued snow showers are likely Sunday mainly before 10 p.m.
Travel could be very difficult, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Drivers should expect winter driving conditions with snow and ice-covered roads and reduced visibility.
“Anyone with travel plans should stay aware of the latest weather information, have alternative travel plans, or delay travel if possible,” according to ODOT’s TripCheck website. “If you must travel, slow down, and allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination.”
It is recommended travelers have snow chains and a winter survival kit, including a flashlight, food, and water in case of an emergency.
The National Weather Service warned of icy conditions as roads cool quickly with falling temperatures from a cold airmass moving southward from the interior of Canada.
“Take caution especially driving over bridges and overpasses as black ice will form quicker on those elevated colder surfaces,” the NWS said in a statement Saturday night.
Snow falling on top of the ice may make traction even more difficult.
Snow is anticipated to accumulate in “all of western Oregon and southwest Washington,” the NWS said, including elevations all the way to the valley floors and to sea level on the coast.
Snow is coming down at elevations above 1,000 feet, but snow levels will lower during the night as temperatures drop, according to a National Weather weather message issued at 2 p.m.
In and around Salem, rain and snow showers are likely before 8 p.m., followed by snow showers. The low is expected to be around 30 degrees with southwest winds from 5 to 10 mph.. The NWS said 1 to 3 inches of snow is possible overnight.
Sunday’s forecast calls for snow showers and a high near 35 degrees with southwest winds between 6 to 9 mph. Forecasters said it is possible there will be new snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches.
Most roadways in the Mid-Valley remain wet with minimal to no snow accumulation.
But 12 miles west of Mount Hood, Oregon Route 35 is closed between mileposts 73 and 74 due to icy conditions, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s RoadTrip. And in southeast Lake County in southern Oregon, Oregon Route 140 is closed at mile point 28, due to the high snowdrifts.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the central and southern parts of the Willamette Valley from 4 p.m. Christmas Day to 4 a.m. Monday.
There’s a much colder air mass moving south from Canada that, when combined with “widespread showery precipitation” coming off the Pacific, will bring snow to all of western Oregon, according to a winter weather message from the National Weather Service.
Elevations “all the way to the valley floors and to sea level on the coast” could see the snow that’s already accumulating in the mountain passes and other areas above 1,200 feet once temperatures drop, NWS said.
Forecasters now expect between 3 to 8 inches of accumulated snow, starting first in the northern portion then moving south through Sunday.
Snowfall may vary across the valley because of the “showery nature” of the winter storm, the National Weather Service said, and amounts in the southern Willamette Valley may be “at the higher end of the range due to snow lasting longer.”
Heavy snow is expected in the western and central Columbia River Gorge, including I-84 and Washington Highway 14. Between eight and 16 inches of snow is expected, and afternoon western winds with “gusts up to 25 mph” and blowing, drifting snow, the NWS said.
Drivers should be prepared for snow and ice covering the roads and reducing visibility, travel could be very difficult.
Police have closed all westbound lanes at Lloyd on I-84 in Portland, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s TripCheck.
Near the town of Boyd, severe weather hazard was issued for I-84 mile points 347.85 to 328.1 due to black ice on the road.
A crash near Roseburg on I-5 northbound at mile point 119 and southbound at mile point 123 may cause some delays. In the mountain range south of Neksowin, a different crash on US 101 at mile point 128.95 also is causing some delays.
An additional severe weather hazard was issued for outside of Burns, at US 20 at mile points 52.5 to 71.59 and 71.59 to 88 due to packed snow on the road as more snow continues to fall. Four inches of new snow was added overnight to mile points 52.5 to 71.59 while 15 inches of new snow has fallen at mile points 71.59 to 88.
5:15 p.m. Friday: Snow expected along the coast
A winter weather advisory has been issued for the central coast, specifically in anticipation for heavy, blowing snow and snowfall. Snowfall is expected to accumulate between 2 and 5 inches, down to sea level and along US 101 with slippery roads from snow and ice. The advisory is in effect from 4 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Monday.
Various roads along the coast have severe weather hazards, including US 26, from mile point 57.3 to 50, and US 395 from mile points 47.3 to 59.6 due to snow flurries and ice on the roads.
The National Weather Service also warned that much heavier snow accumulations — up to 10 inches — are possible at elevations close to the coast above 200 ft. elevation.
A winter storm watch is now in effect for the central and southern Willamette Valley.
The National Weather Service-issued winter storm watch began at 4 p.m. Friday. The winter storm watch expires at 4 p.m. Monday.
Total snow accumulation between 1-7 inches is possible during those times.
“A colder airmass will slide down into the region and push snow levels to sea level Christmas night. Expect widespread snow showers across northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington through early Monday morning. Chances for snow decrease after Monday, but it will be much colder as arctic air spills into the region,” NWS said.
Snow levels will be slower to drop in the central and southern Willamette Valley, NWS said. Showers may not turn to all snow until later Saturday night.
Once precipitation turns to all snow, snow amounts will vary widely, even over short distances, due to the showery nature of the precipitation, NWS said.
The highest snow amounts are most likely to fall across the hills initially and across areas east of Interstate 5 near the foothills of the Cascades including places such as Mulino, Molalla, Silverton, Stayton, Scio, Sublimity and Lebanon, NWS said.
The lowest amounts will generally fall at the lowest elevations west of Interstate 5, but NWS said localized areas west of Interstate 5 may receive higher amounts as well.
A flood warning has been issued for the Pudding River in Aurora. The river level is currently above 22 feet, and is expected to impact low land and the roads alongside the river. Through the weekend, the river is expected to recede slowly and drop below flood level on Monday.
A crash and a disabled vehicle are the cause of two closures. Highway 224 is closed at Bartlemay Road, 2 miles west of Eagle Creek mile point 16. And Highway 273 is closed at the intersection with Green Springs Highway, Highway 66 mile points 0 – 9. Use alternate roads due to these closures.
More severe weather hazard extends to US 20 at milepost 52.5 to 71.59 and 71.59 to 88 as snow continues to accumulate.
A snow hazard has been issued for I-5, from mile point 1 to 11. Currently, there is snow coming down fast, with slush and snow on the road.
Weather warnings are issued for mileposts 66 to 81; 87.5 to 99.1; 115 to 118 and 146 to 148 as there is snowfall and ice building up on the road.
Two crashes are reported on I-84 at mile point 61 going eastbound.
Weather warnings are also issued for I-84 from mileposts 216 to 226; 226 to 264 and 266 to 281 for strong winds and drifting snow. Watch out for spots of ice on the road.
Heavy snow is also seen on Highway 126 between mileposts 0-13. Roads have about 10 inches of snow and new snowfall has added 3 inches.
11: 15 a.m.: Santiam Junction snow
Showers are falling on the valley floor, with rainfall amounts expected to be a tenth to a quarter an inch. The snow level remaining above 1,500 feet. A mix of rain and snow is possible early Christmas morning, but that will become all rain after 11 a.m.
Similar conditions are expected in Portland, although snow level could be as low as 700 feet.
In Detroit, half an inch of snow is expected today, 2 to 4 inches tonight and 3 to 7 inches on Christmas day. Roads appeared slick but clear on ODOT’s TripCheck cameras. But at Santiam Junction, snow was covering the roads. Forecasts for the mountains call for 6 to 10 inches today, another 5 to 9 inches Christmas day and an additional 7 to 11 inches Christmas night.
Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Thursday evening in response to the projected severe winter weather across Oregon.
The declaration, in effect through Jan. 4, follows heavy snowfall predictions with sustained below-freezing tempuratures, which could result in critical transportation failures, and disruptions to power and communications infrastructure, according to a statement issued by Brown’s office.
“Our state has experienced a number of climate-related emergencies this year, and with another coming, I urge all Oregonians to make a plan with your family now and be prepared,” Brown said.
Brown urged state residents to check on neighbors and loved ones, if possible, and stay home if road conditions worsen.
Brown’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of Emergency Management to activate state resources to respond to the effects of the weather emergency.
Chance of snowfall in the mid-Willamette Valley is becoming more likely.
National Weather Service meteorologists in Portland have issued a winter storm watch over Christmas weekend for areas in the mid-and south Willamette Valley, including Salem, from Saturday afternoon through late Sunday.
Officials predict a round of heavy snow above 1,500 feet Friday, with a colder airmass sliding into the region pushing snow to sea levels by Christmas night. Snow accumulation could range from a dusting to six inches in some places, meteorologists said.
The highest amounts will likely fall above 500 feet and well east of Interstate 5 near the Cascades foothills, including places such as Silverton, Stayton, Scio, Sublimity and Lebanon and the eastern portions of the Eugene/Springfield metro. The lowest amounts of snow will generally fall at the lowest elevations west of Interstate 5.
Residents should also expect off and on snowfall Saturday night through early Monday morning.
The National Weather Service says there is still “uncertainty” about how much snow areas of the Willamette Valley will get this weekend. But here’s what they’ve generally predicted could fall between 4 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday:
- 1.7-4.4 inches in Portland.
- 1.4-3.3 inches in Salem.
- 2-5.7 inches in Eugene.
- 1.6-5.1 inches in Astoria.
— Alia Beard Rau
5 p.m. Thursday: Cascades snow warning
A winter storm warning above 2,000 feet has been issued for the Northern Oregon Cascade foothills from 6 a.m. Friday until 6 am. Saturday. Total snow accumulation could be four to eight inches, but additional accumulation of up to 16 inches is possible.
Warnings have also been issued for the Northern Oregon Cascades. There, total snow accumulations of eight to 16 inches is predicted, with additional accumulation of up to 30 inches possible.
Travel could be impacted. To check the latest travel conditions, visit tripcheck.com or call 511.
— Alia Beard Rau
Dense fog has been reported on Interstate 5 near Siskiyou, north of the California border, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Trip Check.
The Willamette Valley, the mountains, the Columbia River Gorge and Central, Southern and Eastern Oregon all likely will see varying degrees of snow and freezing temperatures over the three-day holiday weekend and into the following week, ODOT officials said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Travelers should be prepared to encounter hazardous winter conditions.
Use tripcheck.com/ to keep up the latest road conditions.
Agencies in the Portland metro area are busy preparing for the stretch of snow and frigid temperatures expected next week.
At a news conference Thursday, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury declared a state of emergency for the county that will last from Friday until Jan. 3.
“This will give us the maximum ability to plan, contract and seek additional resources over what could be a very long cold snap stretching to the new year,” Kafoury said.
“According to the latest forecasts, our region is facing an extended period of snow and frigid temperatures, starting this weekend and worsening next week. Those are conditions that bring a high risk of danger to our neighbors who are surviving outside without a home.”
Similarly, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared an emergency for Portland, starting at 8 a.m. Friday until Dec. 31.
Multnomah County and the City of Portland are set to open severe winter weather shelters on Christmas Day.
— David Davis
Holiday travelers can expect wet road conditions on Interstate 5 on the way to Portland International Airport.
National Weather Service Portland meteorologist Daniel Hartsock said commuters who are traveling to the airport and south on Interstate 5 will see wet conditions.
Those making their way to the Oregon Coast may see some snowy conditions at summit of the Coastal Range.
Noon, Thursday: Salem temps in mid-40s, rain
Salem’s temperatures will be in the mid-40s throughout Thursday with on- and off-showers, according to National Weather Service Portland meteorologist Daniel Hartsock.
The rain is expected to taper off Thursday evening before the next system approaches early Friday. Overnight temperatures will drop into the upper 30s, Hartsock said.
Showers will continue Friday with temperatures in the low-40s.
Mid- Willamette Valley residents could see a mix of snow and rain on Christmas Day. Between one and three inches of snowfall is expected overnight Saturday, Hartsock said.
Previous coverage:Snow to hit Willamette Valley Christmas weekend
— Virginia Barreda
10:30 a.m. Thursday: PDX parking filling up
Flights at PDX are generally on time so far. The parking lots are beginning to fill up. The economy lot is 85% full, the long-term garage is 62% full and the short-term garage is 46% full.
Airport officials recommend travelers check their flights before leaving for the airport as predicted weather could cause delays later into the weekend.
— Alia Beard Rau
10 a.m. Thursday: Salem response to potential snow
Salem city officials said they’re preparing crews and equipment for the possibility of snow next week.
“We scale our response to the amount and location of snow and ice accumulation,” city spokeswoman Courtney Knox Busch said.
City officials prioritize the West and South Salem hills first, then the rest of the arterial streets and then collector and major residential streets, she said.
“We cannot plow cul-de-sac or dead-end streets or streets that have speed humps,” she added.
— Zach Urness
7:30 a.m. Thursday: Landslide closes River Road South
A section of River Road South is closed Thursday morning following an early morning landslide.
Both directions of River Road are closed between Owens Street SE and Minto Island Road SE, the entrance to Minto-Brown Island Park, after the slide was reported at about 2:30 a.m., according to city officials.
Officials say the closure will remain until the slide area can be cleared and assessed for further instability.
An early estimate put the amount of material that slid down at about 150 cubic yards, which is blocking the shoulder, northbound lane and spilling into the southbound lane, according to Courtney Knox Busch, a City of Salem spokesperson.
Croisan Creek Road S is the designated detour route.
— David Davis
7 a.m. Thursday: Snow dumps on Cascade passes
Travelers over Oregon’s Cascade Range passes saw heavy snow Wednesday night, with more expected Thursday and Friday.
About six inches of new snow was reported at the Santiam Pass summit Thursday morning with more on the way.
— David Davis
Prepare for possible power outages
While power companies say crews will be at the ready to respond to outages as snow moves into the area, officials say residents should be prepared as any outage could overlap with frigid temperatures.
Residents are encouraged to plan ahead with an outage kit containing these items:
- Flashlight or headlamps.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and alarm clock or watch.
- Car charger for your cell phone, laptops and/or tablets.
- 72-hour supply of ready-to-eat food and water.
- Extra blankets.
- Bottled water for people and animals (if you rely on electricity to pump water).
How to travel safely during winter
Check road conditions in advance and get real-time road reports at Oregon Department of Transportation’s tripcheck.com.
Recommended equipment for vehicles include snow tires or chains and emergency supplies including:
- Extra gas.
- Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation).
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food).
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
- First aid kit.
- Extra batteries.
- Whistle (to signal for help).
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation).
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities).
- Manual can opener (for food).
- Local maps.
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.
— Zach Urness