Sunday travel could get treacherous

    The Rogue Valley’s strongest winds of the season are expected to blow over by this evening, but in the storm’s wake will be treacherous road conditions, especially on mountain passes, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

    A coastal storm system is bringing strong winds through Southern Oregon today, including gusts as high as 80 mph at high elevations. National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene said these were “probably the most significant” winds this winter.

    The wind closed Mt. Ashland Ski Area for a fourth time and caused power line problems throughout Jackson County, according to Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon reports.

    Keene said the winds are expected to diminish by this evening, but the storm will bring snow in lower mountain elevations and rain in the valley floor that a cold front could freeze by Sunday night into Monday morning.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised to see some snow at 2,500 feet,” Keene said.

    The snow will make Interstate 5 travel treacherous over Siskiyou Summit on Sunday, as well as near Diamond Lake, Lake of the Woods, Howard Prairie Lake, Highway 140 and Crater Lake, the weather service says. Most of the 5 inches of snow expected will fall Sunday afternoon into the evening, according to Keene.

    Weather advisories will be in effect Sunday on the Cascades, the freeway pass, and on Highway 97 near Chemult.

    The weather service recommends drivers adjust plans and avoid traveling during the storm, which will bring poor visibility and heavy snow. Drivers who must travel late Sunday should bring an emergency kit, food, water and tire chains.

    The storm systems are expected to bring precipitation throughout the Rogue Valley, but Keene said it’s possible that clearing skies late Sunday will bring another set of challenges for travelers.

    “Clearing skies allow the surface to cool,” Keene said, describing potentially icy road conditions Sunday night into Monday morning.

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