City News

Salem sees brief snow ahead of cold weekend, icy roads likely overnight

Salemites may see a mix of rain and snow Thursday before conditions turn dry over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Lisa Kriederman, a meteorologist with the agency, said Salem will likely see isolated, scattered showers for the rest of Thursday, with rain occasionally mixed with snow. 

Kriederman said she expects any snowfall to be light and not stick to the ground, but people should watch for icy roads as temperatures freeze overnight. 

The National Weather Service is forecasting a high near 40 degrees, with a low near 31 degrees Thursday night.  

Showers are forecasted to decrease overnight and into Friday, with a high near 45 degrees and a low near 32 degrees Friday night.

Kriederman said there will be an isolated chance of some rain showers before Salem turns mostly dry Saturday. The agency forecasts a high near 42 degrees and a low near 29 degrees Saturday night. 

She said there is a slight chance of snow showers and light, patchy freezing rain Saturday night into Sunday, when Salem is expected to see a high near 41 and a low near 32.

The forecasts come after a month of average temperatures much lower than the same time last year in Salem.

Kriederman said the National Weather Service recorded an average temperature 4.5 degrees below what’s historically normal for Salem. That’s down from 3.5 degrees above average in November 2021.

Mark Bechtel, the city’s public works operations manager, said at a Salem City Council meeting Monday that his department will have trained workers on standby this week and any other week they are needed this winter, with “a good supply” of de-icer and sanding rock.

Most of the department’s work during snowstorms is focused on the south and west Salem hills, he said. People can find current road conditions by dialing 5-1-1.

When night temperatures drop to 32 or below, homeless service provider The ARCHES Project will transport people by van to an emergency shelter through March 31. The shuttle operates until 8 p.m., transporting people from the ARCHES Day Center at 615 Commercial Street N.E. to the two shelters that are part of the program. The organization also offers a ride back to the day center in the morning.

The Salem Area Mass Transit District, also known as Cherriots, provides free transportation to and from emergency shelters on nights where temperatures are at or below 32 degrees. Outreach workers on such nights also drive around and look for people who may need a ride to an emergency shelter until 7:30 p.m.

As of Thursday afternoon, the organization planned to activate emergency services on Thursday, close on Friday and be on “standby” Saturday through Sunday, meaning they will activate if current weather patterns hold and lows are projected to be at or below 32 degrees.

All shelter activations that occur this weekend will be at South Salem Friends church, 1140 Baxter Road S. 

People can fund current information about shelter activation on Facebook or by calling ARCHES’ warming shelter hotline, 971-304-9211. Those who want to receive text and email alerts about shelter status can sign up online.

Robert Marshall, emergency manager for ARCHES, said after the shelters reopened for the season that they were in urgent need of volunteers to help at the shelter sites. People interested in volunteering for the program can submit an application on ARCHES’ website.

“It’s such a life-saving strategy and so dependent on a volunteer response,” said Gretchen Bennett, Salem’s homelessness liaison, at the city council meeting Monday.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.