Snow, rain to continue

Wintry weather will linger a little longer in Southern Oregon.

A weather front moving across the region likely will bring steady rain to the Rogue Valley today and Saturday, but snow will continue to pile up in the foothills and mountain passes, said Ken Sargeant, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Medford.

A snow advisory issued Thursday afternoon warned that 1 to 4 inches of snow could fall at elevations above 1,500 feet through 4 a.m. today. Some places at elevations as low as 1,000 feet were expected to get another dusting overnight, too.

High temperatures across much of the valley are expected to approach 40 degrees today.

"Once the precipitation in the valley turns to rain, snow levels will be not too far up, just above the valley floor, at 2,000 to 3,000 feet," Sargeant said.

Snow levels will remain below the 4,310-foot elevation of Siskiyou Pass through Sunday, when showers will begin to taper off, he said.

Travelers should expect snow, icy conditions and limited visibility in the mountains, even as weather gets less severe in the valley, Sargeant said.

Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation crews stayed busy Thursday keeping traffic moving over the Siskiyou Pass. Chains were required on all vehicles except those with four-wheel drive, and even they had to chain up if they were towing.

The Medford airport got nearly an inch of snow Thursday, Sargeant said. Weather spotters in Shady Cove reported 3 to 4 inches during the day.

"December and January are the times it's most likely to get honest-to-goodness snow in the Rogue Valley," Sargeant said.

The winter storm now delivering mountain snow and valley rain should move through the area by late Sunday. A high pressure center over the Pacific will dry out the air mass, putting an end to precipitation. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day should be dry, but cold overnight as skies clear.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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