Cold, windy soaker of a storm rolls into the Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. - A strong cold front moved into Oregon and southwest Washington Friday, bringing a healthy dose of rain, gusty winds and snow in the Coast Range and Cascades.

The National Weather Service has declared a Winter Storm Warning for the Cascades from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Additionally, a Winter Weather Advisory has been declared for the Coast Range from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The action began along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coasts mid-morning Friday with moderately heavy rain starting at about 8 a.m.

As the front moves onto land and sweeps across the region, rain and wind will increase on the coast and in the Willamette Valley early Friday afternoon, KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby said.

Behind the front, cold air will be drawn down from the Gulf of Alaska, pulling down the snow level from 2,500 feet to about 1,500 feet by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. on Friday.

The latest forecast updates indicate it will likely snow all night in the Cascades on Friday and into Saturday morning. The snow level will briefly sink to 1,000 feet, threatening the valley with snow with a rain-snow mix; however there isn't much chance for any snow accumulation on the valley floor.

But 7 to 8 inches of snow is expected in the Coast Range and 20 to 23 inches of snow accumulation could pile up in the northern Oregon Cascades.

KATU Meteorologist Mary Loos was on Mount Hood early Friday and advised those seeking fresh powder to head up early Friday but then head home before the brunt of the storm hits.

"As we get into the afternoon and evening hours, try to get down off the mountain as fast as you can because this storm is coming in," Loos said.

Along with the rain, the main story on the coast will be "the driving wind," Salesky said. Residents can expect 40 to 55 mph gusts and an inch of rain, perhaps a little more.

Heavy seas with 20-foot waves were reported Friday morning in some locations along the coast.

In the Willamette Valley, winds will gust to 30 to 40 mph and about an inch of rain is expected, said Salesky on Thursday.

The storm is expected to pass through the area by Saturday afternoon.

Watch Rhonda's latest forecast: