Heavy snow, wind make travel on Cascade passes hazardous through Monday

People who travel over Cascade mountain passes Sunday and Monday will face heavy snowfall and high winds that could create near zero visibility conditions, the National Weather Service is warning.

Snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour in the mountain passes Sunday evening and into Monday morning, and wind gusts could reach 35 to 55 mph. That could create whiteout conditions and send tree branches falling onto highways, according to forecasters.

Highway passes could still be busy as people travel home after Thanksgiving, and the National Weather Service is reminding drivers to check weather and road conditions before they leave, carry tire chains and leave extra space between their car and the vehicle ahead of them when driving on slick roads.

Colby Neuman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, said areas at least 4,000 feet above sea level are likely to receive 12 to 18 inches of snow by mid-Monday.

“It’ll pick up here over the next few hours,” Neuman said around 1 p.m. Sunday. “By this evening, conditions will be deteriorating pretty rapidly going over the passes.”

— Hillary Borrud; hborrud@oregonian.com

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