Dark skies on the horizon

Snow tops the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Pendleton on Monday. Weekend forecasts are calling for more snow in the mountains with the possibility of snow in the lower elevations of the Columbia River Basin.<BR><I>Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Button up - a winter storm Friday afternoon will bring high winds, rain and snow throughout Eastern Oregon, and Saturday's overnight lows will drop to the lower-teens.

The strong cold front will move through Friday afternoon and rain and snow will be likely over much of Oregon, according to the National Weather Service. The Blue Mountains and the Cascades could have heavy snowfall and snow is also likely in the lower elevations.

Wind gusts will pick up Friday afternoon as well and continue into Saturday.

Sustained winds of at least 25-35 mph and higher gusts are possible Friday afternoon and into the night.

The front also prompted the National Weather Service in Pendleton to issue a high wind watch for Friday afternoon though Saturday morning. The weather service issues a high wind watch when there is the possibility sustained winds could reach 40 mph or gusts could top 58 mph.

The high winds and the snow will produce blizzard conditions in the mountains late Friday afternoon and through the night.

Rain is likely throughout Eastern Oregon after 10 a.m. Friday, and rain and snow are likely that night.

In the Pendleton area, the freezing level will drop Friday night from 2,400 feet to 1,100 feet. Around Hermiston, the freezing level will drop from 2,100 feet to as low as 800 feet.

Rain and snow are likely Saturday morning.

Much colder air will move in Saturday as well, causing temperatures to drop significantly below normal. Pendleton and Hermiston will have overnight lows around 13-14 degrees.

The National Weather Service forecast shows Pendleton has a 60 percent chance of rain or snow Saturday, dropping off to a 50 percent chance Saturday night. Sunday and Monday that drops to just a slight chance of snow.

Hermiston has a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday and a 30 percent chance of snow Saturday night. That decreases to a slight chance of snow Sunday, and Monday should be mostly clear, but with a high near 22.

The cold weather will last through the middle of next week.

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