PORTLAND -- A storm front was moving into the Willamette Valley Thursday morning, bringing with it the potential for as much as seven inches of snow around Eugene and Albany, said KGW meteorologist Nick Allard.
Snow will start to fall around noon in Portland with one to two inches in the city and five inches in the southern suburbs, he said.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for Thursday morning through Friday morning for the entire Portland and Vancouver Metro areas. The alert warned of snow and blowing snow, combined with powerful east winds.
A second storm was setting up to hit Portland even harder on Saturday.
"We could see snow or freezing rain all day long on Saturday," Zaffino said. "Parts of the mid valley may get six to 12 inches of snow and the Columbia River Gorge could be very bad."
Zaffino added that the length of time that each type of precipitation lasts will be key.
"It's possible Portland will see two to six inches of snow and a quarter to a half-inch of ice," he said.
The NWS also issued a Wind Advisory for the Portland Metro Area, effective through Thursday at 10 p.m., which warned motorists to be especially careful on the Interstate 5 bridge and the Glenn Jackson Bridge.
NWS Special Statement: Snow in the valley Thursday, freezing rain this weekend
On Mount Hood, skiers should also expect a snow dump this weekend, with up to a foot falling at ski areas. The cold weather allowed resorts to make snow throughout the week. But people headed to Mt. Hood should be careful.
On Sunday, temperatures will warm above freezing and it will be all rain. Rain and mountain snow will continue on and off next week.
In Portland, city officials turned off area water bubblers in anticipation of the freeze and road crews were preparing for icy road conditions.
"We are spot treating with de-icing all week throughout this cold snap," said Kimberly Dinwiddie of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Warming shelters started opening Tuesday in anticipation of the cold.