Heavy snow, wind may make mountain passes treacherous

PORTLAND, Ore. - Skiers and snowboarders will be happy to hear that heavy snow is headed for the Mount Hood area and Southwest Washington Cascades, but the current storm could be treacherous for drivers.

KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby said the snow level will be at about 2,000 feet and up to three feet of new snow could fall at ski resort levels in the next 36 hours.

High winds combined with the heavy snow could cause whiteout conditions at times, Shelby said.

Almost a foot of new snow has fallen just in the last 24 hours, Shelby said. A Winter Storm Warning has been posted for upper elevations near the Cascades by the National Weather Service. "Heavy snow and strong westerly winds will bring blizzard-like conditions to the mountains," the NWS said in a post on their website.

Drivers headed over mountain passes near Mt. Hood should expect severe winter conditions and be prepared to chain up. Shelby said the snow could increase and come down at the rate of an inch an hour starting Monday evening.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has most Mount Hood passes posted with a Severe Weather Hazard warning and chains are required for many types of vehicles.

In images from ODOT web cams, both Highway 26 and Highway 35 around Mount Hood were covered in snow at higher altitudes with temperatures below freezing.

South of the Portland area, travel over Cascade passes should be less of a challenge since central and southern Oregon Cascades will be out of the snow zone today, Shelby said.

At lower elevations, the moist flow off the ocean will bring more rain and temperatures in the 40s for most Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington locations, Shelby said.

Watch a forecast update from Rhonda: