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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – With Thanksgiving travel right around the corner, a potentially historic wind and snow storm is now taking aim at Southern Oregon. Most major travel impacts will affect the southern Oregon region. Heavy snow and damaging winds will cause hazardous travel conditions come Tuesday and Wednesday. It is highly encouraged to avoid travel during the Tuesday and Wednesday time period due to dangerous conditions.
Weather models are now agreeing on an unusually strong low-pressure system developing Tuesday. So far, models track the low onshore around Cape Blanco, Oregon.
What makes this system so unique is the rapid drop in central pressure. The storm will gain strength quickly as it moves inland.
Weather models show the storm’s low pressure in the range of 975 millibars (mb), which would classify this storm as a “bomb cyclone” and one of the strongest in recent history.
The last storm this strong and with a similar track was back in December 2002. An intense cyclone (strong mid-latitude storm) curved up into the central coast with a central pressure of 978 mb. Areas of Cape Blanco and Gold Beach had reported wind gusts of 90 mph. Eugene saw winds gusts of 39 mph and Salem around 44 mph from that storm.
As Tuesday arrives, strong winds will develop at the southern Oregon coast. A High Wind Warning has been posted by the National Weather Service for Tuesday & Wednesday for the Curry county coast. Damaging winds up to 50 mph and gusts up to 80 mph are possible. Some of the coastal headlands could see wind gusts closer to 100 mph.
Winds in the Rogue Valley of eastern Curry and Josephine counties, including the Interstate-5 corridor, could see damaging winds with gusts as high as 70 mph. Winds may cause tree limbs to break and power lines to fail. Power outages are possible.
Heavy snowfall in the western Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon and California is expected as the storm arrives. Whiteout conditions are possible for drivers as snow continues to fall through gusty winds. It is encouraged to avoid travel Tuesday and Wednesday.
The National Weather Service in Medford, OR released this statement in their recent weather discussion:
"It should be emphasized that travel across the area may become impossible due to snow, wind, and blowing and drifting snow. Avoid travel on Tuesday and Wednesday if possible, and at the very least, prepare and carry an emergency travel kit with you. Double check and ensure the safety of your vehicle and tires, and be prepared for significant travel delays and road closures."
If you must travel, it is encouraged to head out Monday or wait until Wednesday morning or afternoon.
Listen to Kelley Bayern and Joseph Dames’ outlook for the Winter of 2019-20:
If you have to drive in snow, check out our Your Weather podcast episode with tips from ODOT on traveling in winter conditions: