Will it or won't it?
A system of wild weather is expected hammer Oregon during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
A “bomb cyclone” is forecast to sweep into the state Tuesday, bringing snow across Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon, dropping feet of snow on Cascade Range passes and bringing dangerous wind speeds to the coast.
The biggest impact will be felt in the state’s southern half, but Eugene and possibly Salem could see an inch of snow, while mountain passes to Bend and Central Oregon could be very difficult to cross.
“If you’re traveling south or east on Tuesday or Wednesday, consider leaving a bit earlier, or delay it until later on Wednesday," a statement from the National Weather Service in Portland said. “It's going to be a messy driving situation over a good part of southwestern Oregon and over the Cascades Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night.”
The good news is that Oregon’s largest population center, the Portland Metro, is only forecast to see a dusting of snow — less than a half inch.
Snow began falling on Cascade Range passes Monday morning, bringing 3 to 5 inches to most higher elevation roads.
But things ramp up in a big way Tuesday.
Government Camp is projected to get 8 to 10 inches, Santiam Pass should see 12 to 15 inches and Willamette Pass could see 15 to 20.
The main period of concern is 10 a.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday.
In the lower elevations and cities, the forecast calls for mostly rain that eventually turns to snow sometime around midnight Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Somewhere around an inch is possible in Salem and Portland, while Eugene could get anywhere from 1 to 4 inches.
Central Oregon cities Bend and Redmond could see 4 to 8 inches.
“Most places to get less than an inch, but some potential for 1 to 2 inches south of Albany, including Eugene and Cottage Grove," NWS said.
Wind and major snow to hammer Southern Oregon
Anyone planning to travel to southwest Oregon or into California on Tuesday might want to change plans, meteorologists said.
The bomb cyclone is expected to hit hardest near Gold Beach and south of Roseburg.
Winds on the Oregon Coast could reach 76 MPH — including 100 MPH on exposed headlands — making it very difficult to drive tall vehicles and bringing very high seas to the coast. Be very careful on coastal beaches.
How much snow will hit I-5, mountain roads?
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The biggest impact statewide will likely be heavy snow falling on I-5, according to the latest forecasts.
The three tallest mountain passes on I-5, all south of Roseburg, are projected to see white. Four to eight inches is expected on Canyon and Sexton Mountain passes on I-5 while over a foot is expected on Siskiyou Summit at the border of Oregon and California.
Overall, 10 to 15 inches of snow and winds up to 50 MPH are forecast everywhere above 2,500 feet in southwest Oregon.
But even below that, near the valley floor in cities such as Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland, 1 to 4 inches of snow is possible with high winds.
That could mean much of southwest Oregon facing whiteout conditions.
Snow totals projected for southern Oregon include major snow on I-5. (Photo: National Weather Service)
"If you must travel on Tuesday, do so early, and complete your travel before 10 a.m. to enhance your safety. Otherwise, it's best to wait until Wednesday afternoon but preferably Thursday," said the National Weather Service in Medford.