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Timing gets more clear on PNW snowstorm


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Snow is coming to Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. 

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm alert which will last Friday evening through Saturday afternoon for Washington, the I-5 corridor in Cowlitz County and greater Vancouver area, lower Columbia Gorge and the greater Portland metro area. The NWS said between one and four inches of snow could fall in those areas. 

The timing of it all

Friday afternoon will see rain showers with highs in the lower 40s.

The timing of when the snow begins is hard to pinpoint area-wide. Snow may begin to fall between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday.

But Saturday morning we are likely to wake up to a blanket of snow. Totals at PDX could be between 1-3 inches by Saturday night. There may be 4 inches of snow in areas closer to Troutdale and Clark County and in the Kelso/Longview area. 

The Columbia River Gorge area may see between 6 and 8 inches by Saturday afternoon.

It doesn’t end there.

Sunday night through Wednesday there are more opportunities for accumulating snow on the valley floor — which would mean more school cancellations or delays.

Travel issues

The Portland Bureau of Transportation strongly recommended using public transit for commuting needs if it’s absolutely necessary to leave your home and said travelers should check TriMet alerts and notifications for the Portland Streetcar. You can also check your elevation and the elevation of areas you’re traveling through here. PBOT also reminded residents that it’s their job to keep snow and ice off of sidewalks. 

But even those taking public transit are worried about delays. 

“I mostly worry about me not being able to get to work on time,” said MAX commuter, Frieda Bikele. “That’s the weather, that’s Oregon, we have to be prepared, you know, that we may have some snow, some sun, some rain — that’s just what Oregon is about.” 

KOIN 6 Chief Meteorologist Natasha Stenbock answers questions, explains more about the forecast.

The winter storm alert issued by the NWS means there’s “potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel.” Roadways may be dangerous and drivers are urged to use caution. 

The Washington County Department of Land Use & Transporation is ready for whatever the weather throws this way. Crews spent the dry days this week preparing for the possible onslaught by laying down more than 4,000 gallons of anti-icer on county roads. Officials encouraged everyone to stay home if it snows but if they have to get behind the wheel, there’s one thing they should definitely avoid. 

“We’re really encouraging people to avoid abandoning vehicles on the sides of the roads if they can,” said LUT spokesperson Melissa De Lyser. “Once you’ve got vehicles off into the shoulders and on the sides of the roads, it makes it really difficult to plow.” 

Many commuters were taking last-minute precautions Thursday evening by getting their cars ready for the winter weather. Employees at Affordable Tire & Brake Co. on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard were busy helping customers get snow tires on their cars Thursday evening and they expected to be busy again on Friday. But supplies are limited this time of year. 

“Because it’s February, most of the tires are sold out,” said the store’s supervisor, Heather Ogawa. 

When asked what drivers should do if snow does accumulate on the roads, Ogawa said, “At this point? Chains. Chains or stay home.” 

What’s next

Looking toward the end of the weekend and beyond, we could be in for more rounds of winter weather. 

Snow is looking likely to move back into the area Sunday night into Monday morning and again Monday night into Tuesday morning.

It’s still too soon to know with much certainty how much snow the Pacific Northwest could see in the coming week but general projections suggest around 6 to 7 inches between Friday night to Wednesday. 

Time to dig those snow shovels out of the garage, stock up on hot chocolate and, as always, stick with KOIN 6 News for the latest weather updates for your area! 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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