The Oregon Capitol is blanketed in snow on the morning on Feb. 5, 2019 (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)
Salem could see some snow Monday and Tuesday night.
There could be up to a few inches. There could be nothing.
“On Tuesday night and Wednesday, (Oregon is) more likely to have widespread snow. How far that extends south into the central Willamette Valley, that’s still a question,” said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with National Weather Service in Portland. “The farther south you go in the Willamette Valley the less certain we are its going to be below freezing.”
Current forecasts put Monday night’s low at 33 degrees and Tuesday night’s at 29 degrees.
Bryant said the foothills above 500 or 600 feet are more likely to see snowfall. At the lower elevation areas in Salem, it should be more “showery.”
Salem’s weather is right on the edge of being below or above freezing, Bryant said.
Salem’s highest snowfall on Jan. 14 was 16 inches in 1909, according to National Weather Service data.
Bruce Hildebrandt, Salem’s streets maintenance operations group manager, has been dealing with the logistics of the city’s response to snow for 22 years. He can remember the city’s last big snow event in 2008, when a December storm dropped more than a foot of snow on the valley floor.
Hildebrandt said staff are looking at forecasts changing every hour and have six to eight resources they look at to stay ahead of the changing weather.
He said four snowplows have been set up since Friday, ready to respond if a major road needs to be plowed in toward the city or away from city center.
Stephen Custer, digital marketing coordinator at Cherriots, said if the weather worsens, managers meet at an emergency operations center at 4 a.m. and head out in four-wheel drive vehicles to check conditions.
The south Salem and west Salem hills usually get hit with snow first, he said.
Cherriots also has regional routes in Silverton and the Santiam Canyon toward Gates. If it’s too snowy or icy, the bus will stop at a park and ride in Stayton.
Custer said Cherriots’ maintenance department is ready to chain up buses if needed.
"We serve a huge part of the city when it snows,” Custer said. “It’s a great option for people who still need to get to work.”
Bus riders can check for route changes at cherriots.org/alerts.
In the event of snow or ice, Salem-Keizer schools will make a decision about cancelling or delaying school by 5:15 a.m. That decision will be broadcast on local radio and television, district social media accounts and the district website. Families will receive automated telephone calls starting at 6 a.m.
Snow continues to fall in the Cascades and some snow is predicted for the coastal highways as well, the National Weather Service’s Bryant said.
“It stays cold through Thursday and then by Friday we start to warm up,” Bryant said.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250 or [email protected].