Clark County could get up to five inches of snow on Thursday afternoon heading into the 5 p.m. commute, depending on how National Weather Service forecast models play out.
The weather service issued a winter storm watch Wednesday afternoon warning that the area could see 1 to 5 inches of snow, possibly starting at midday on Thursday.
“Things are very uncertain,” said Beth Burgess, a meteorologist with the service in Portland. “There will be a bit of a line where areas to the south of us, we’re pretty confident will get significant accumulations. But it’s harder to tell around Portland. We could see significant accumulations or we could see nothing at all.”
Either way, things will likely get worse with the big storm expected this weekend, she said.
Forecast models continue to predict significant snowfall on Friday night and Saturday. The Thursday event looks like a smaller wet system will flow into an area mostly south of Portland, mixing with the arctic cold air that flowed into the region Wednesday morning, said Matthew Cullen, a meteorologist with the service in Portland.
“We’re a bit north of that but we can’t rule it out entirely,” Cullen said of the potential for snow in the county.
Burgess suggested people pay close attention to the forecast, especially for times that they anticipate driving. High winds and blowing snow are also possible.
“A slight track adjustment (of the storm) could really dump on us,” Burgess said.
That system will move out of the area on Thursday night.
The models then predict a brief lull on Friday, with snowfall or freezing rain starting on Friday night and ramping up on Saturday. The amount of snow accumulation is a bit uncertain — although it could potentially be several inches.
“The confidence is still there that we’ll have that system, but the question is the mix of rain and snow,” Cullen said. “We expect there probably will be some significant snow from that system.”
Snowfall amounts will be greater and snow will fall longer in areas influenced by the Columbia River Gorge. In some areas, snow could continue from Friday to late Sunday before switching to rain.
“The models aren’t clear on that right now, so stay tuned,” Cullen said.
Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until early next week, when they’ll climb back into the mid-40s.
The service predicts a high of 28 and a low of 17 degrees Thursday, a high of 31 and a low of 23 Friday, and 31 on Saturday and Saturday evening. The service predicts a mix of snow, rain and freezing rain from Friday night through Sunday.
A wind advisory also remains in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday, with winds of 20 to 35 miles per hour and gusts between 40 and 55 miles per hour possible.
“This is an evolving storm system,” Cullen said. “Just stay tuned to the forecast and expect wintery driving conditions through the weekend.”
Check the National Weather Service website at http://www.weather.gov/ for more information.