Freezing rain, snow?

Wintry conditions possible on Christmas weekend

Snow blankets Hood River in this file photo from January 2017, the last winter season. Forecasts say snow may return this weekend.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Snow blankets Hood River in this file photo from January 2017, the last winter season. Forecasts say snow may return this weekend.

Travelers will face a chance of freezing rain or snow during the holiday traffic scramble.

The National Weather Service told emergency managers and public safety officials in a Dec. 21 email briefing that freezing rain or snow may hit western Oregon and the Gorge this weekend.

Evan Bentley, a meteorologist for NWS in Portland, told agencies, “Holiday travel may be impacted by mixed precipitation (snow, sleet or freezing rain) in the … Columbia River Gorge Friday, Dec. 22 through Christmas Day, Dec. 25, as we enter the upcoming holiday weekend.”

In the Gorge, 1-2 inches of snow is possible Friday evening around Hood River and more likely in the upper valley toward Mount Hood. Forecasters have “low confidence” as to whether temperatures will be slightly above or below freezing.

Forecasts on Friday afternoon considered a slightly higher snow amount for the weekend, with accumulations of 1-3 inches.

Light rain will expectedly fall Saturday, with temperatures either slightly above or below freezing. There will be a chance of snow.

Approaching Christmas, there’s uncertainty over what type and amount of precipitation will fall. Reports say 1-2 inches of snow are possible in the Gorge between Sunday afternoon and Christmas Day.

Bentley said, “Confidence is increasing that portions of the lowlands will be impacted by impactful winter weather, but snow, freezing rain, and rain is all still possible. Timing has also pushed earlier with precipitation expected by Sunday morning.”

The chances of snow or freezing rain are subject to change.

Road crews for the city, county, and state have been gearing up for usual winter conditions. A meteorologist explained to the News earlier this month that despite mild conditions so far, there are no indications that the Gorge won’t experience its typical array of wintry weather, such as snow or ice.

Drivers should also note that police are increasing patrols during the holidays, running Dec. 13 through New Year’s Day.

Oregon State Police will emphasize “Fatal 5” driving behaviors, which lead to serious injury and fatal crashes. Those are speed, occupant safety, lane usage, impaired driving and distracted driving. OSP is asking motorists to report dangerous drivers and those believed to be impaired.

As with other holiday weekends, OSP is urging motorists to plan ahead, expect dense traffic, assume there will be poor driving conditions with rain expected at lower elevations and snow in the mountain passes — and take their time.

For road updates, visit www.tripcheck .com.

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