PORTLAND -- A powerful system may bring snow into the Portland Metro area Thursday, with even heavier snowfall in Salem, according to KGW Chief Meteorologist Matt Zaffino.

For Portland and Vancouver, 1-2 inches is likely, but as much as 5 to 8 inches possible near and south of Salem, Zaffino said. He said snow would likely start mid-morning in the central Willamette Valley and move into the Portland Metro area Thursday afternoon.

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.

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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 6 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 2-6 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 on Mt. Hood, with up to a foot falling at ski areas. The cold weather will allow 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.

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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.

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