Get ready for winter weather

Roads through downtown Pendleton are turning wet as today's temperature rises. But drivers in Eastern Oregon may not have such an easy go starting tonight as a winter storm will drop temperatures to below freezing and bring 4 to 8 inches of snow.

A winter storm could deliver as much as 9 inches of snow over much of Eastern Oregon, including Pendleton and Hermiston by early Tuesday.

Sunday night through Monday morning, a low-pressure system dropped a little snow on lower elevations. Pendleton and Hermiston received an inch or two of snow. And just before 5 a.m. the National Weather Service office in Pendleton issued an urgent message that a “major winter storm will continue to bring accumulating snow to the area through tonight.”

A low-pressure system is moving off the region, the weather service reported, but a stronger storm today is coming in today. 

“Periods of snow will continue today,” meteorologists reported, “and the snow will increase in coverage and intensity this afternoon and tonight.”

There could be 5 to 9 inches of snow in most areas by Tuesday morning, the agency has said, and as much as a foot of snow in the mountains.

Area highs today are hovering near the freezing mark, and overnight lows will be in the mid to low teens. And the NWS has reported an “arctic front will move into the region tonight, which may cause blowing and drifting of snow on gusty northeast winds.”

Pendleton and Helix schools started two hours late today because of the overnight winter weather, and the Athena-Weston School District was closed today.

The snow and ice so far today hasn’t caused many traffic snarls in cities. Early this morning, there was a fatal crash about 9 miles south of Pendleton on Highway 395. Oregon State Police is investigating the two-vehicle wreck. Authorities haven’t said what caused the collision or who died.

OSP this weekend responded to three crashes on Interstate 84 between Deadman Pass at Milepost 229 and around Emigrant State Park, near Milepost 235, and there are reports of vehicles sliding off the highways around Hermiston.

Hermiston Police Chief Dan Coulombe reported roads there are “a little bit icy, but not real bad, but they are a little slick in spots.” Pendleton Police Lt. Bill Caldera said roads in Pendleton also have a bit of ice, but so far there haven’t been reports of any crashes.

Caldera, though, said people need to be sure to drive safely, particularly because of the coming snow and cold. The NWS has predicted Tuesday’s highs in the area will be below 20 and area lows will be at 0 or below.

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