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Holiday travelers beware

Holiday travelers can expect to see plenty of wet weather, including snow in the mountains of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Two snowy weather systems are expected to follow Thursday’s wet weather, potentially blowing snow into the area by Christmas Eve. A weather advisory was issued covering the south central Oregon Cascades, Siskiyou Mountains and southern Oregon Cascades, including Diamond Lake and Lake of the Woods. Highways 138, 140, 230 and 62 could be impacted.

A storm is predicted to arrive Saturday night into Sunday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene. Anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow was expected to fall above 5,000 feet.

Another system is forecast to arrive Christmas Eve, bringing colder air and lower snow levels. Snow amounts of 6 inches to a foot were expected, and flakes could fall as low as 4,000 feet.

“So that’s where you run into issues, if you’re going south over Siskiyou Summit on I-5, if you’re traveling Christmas Eve,” Keene said. “Anywhere above 4,000 feet, especially if you’re crossing into the Cascades, they’re going to get hit pretty hard.”

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory early Thursday for areas above 5,000 feet. New snow accumulations of up to 7 inches were forecast, and some localized amounts of just less than a foot were expected near Crater Lake.

More than one-third of Americans will be traveling this weekend, according to AAA, a 4.4 percent increase from last year.

High winds hit the area Thursday, with gusts fierce enough for Mt. Ashland Ski Area to close Thursday.

“We’re just not feeling safe enough to run the lifts today,” General Manager Hiram Towle said Thursday in a video posted to the park’s Facebook page. “We’ve got gusts already hitting 50 mph, and it’s forecast to increase. So unfortunately, the snow that’s coming in is pushing the wind ahead of it, and we’re just going to have to pull the plug for yet another day.”

The mountain had to close Friday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 16, for the same reason.

Transportation officials recommend travelers not drive during those snowy periods, and to be prepared before heading out if they do. Make sure to have a full tank of gas, fully charged phone, snacks, water and blankets, officials said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

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