National Weather Service issues storm watch; Knappa schools closeA major snow storm is heading this way.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say it likely will hit the northern Oregon Coast today and Tuesday.

"The potential of this storm to bring severe weather conditions to the area warrants making preparations now and not waiting until conditions are imminent," the warning said.

Astoria, Seaside, Warrenton-Hammond and Jewell school districts were all operating on time today, but Knappa School District closed because of heavy snow and ice. Conditions were especially slick in the outlying areas of the district. School officials said while U.S. Highway 30 through Knappa was clear, Old Highway 30, which runs in front of the high school and elementary school, was icy.

Clatsop Community College was running on time today. All the schools reported that they are waiting to see the impact of the next storm before deciding if or when they will open during the next few days.

Forecasters say a strong and wet low-pressure system is expected to move into Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington by tonight or Tuesday, interacting with cold arctic air already over Oregon and Washington. "Abundant moisture will ride over the top of a cold arctic air mass," an official said.

This will initially produce heavy snow before it turns to freezing rain. However, a strong pressure difference will develop between the air masses, resulting in strong northeast winds.

Snow accumulation may be up to 5 inches for Astoria, Cannon Beach, Tillamook, Long Beach and Naselle, Wash. Temperatures are unlikely to climb beyond 35 degrees as east winds gust 15 to 25 mph. Tonight, the temperature will drop to about 30.

During the weekend, the local Oregon State Police post dealt with several traffic accidents as drivers lost control of their vehicles on icy roads.

Only one driver, Michael Curtis Allen, 19, of Astoria received minor injuries. He lost control of his 1994 Ford pickup at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday on ice on U.S. Highway 30 near the John Day River bridge and struck the embankment and rolled over. Paramedics treated him at the scene.

OSP reported seven other motorists lost control on ice on the county's highways throughout the weekend with one other roll over accident at 11:05 p.m. Friday on U.S. Highway 26 near Saddle Mountain Park Road. Both the driver and a passenger escaped without injury.

A few "good-Samaritan" motorists pulled out some of the vehicles stuck in snow after they slid off the road, OSP reported.

Ice caused city crews to close the Eight Street hill in Astoria. Law enforcement officials helping motorists this morning reported that 16th Street and Jerome Avenue was a particularly hazardous intersection.

Cannon Beach Emergency Rescue responded to three accidents Sunday near the viewpoint north of the Cannon Beach north entrance. All accidents were caused by icy roads. Fire Marshal Mike Graham said that area is especially susceptible to ice because it gains elevation as the road climbs out of Cannon Beach.

At 9:53 a.m. a vehicle slid over the embankment into the ditch. At 12:02 p.m., two vehicles slid and hit each other, and at 1:36 p.m. another vehicle slid off the road into the ditch. There were no serious injuries with any of the accidents, Graham said.

Also, at 9:54 a.m. Saturday, Seaside Fire Department assisted Oregon State Police with a one-vehicle slide-off about a mile north of the U.S. Highway 101 and 26 junction. There were no injuries.

Even the normally mild western half of Washington state saw temperatures dip into the 20s Sunday.

A missing skier was found alive but hypothermic after more than four days in the chilly Cascades. Dan Witkowski, 25, of Ellensburg, was discovered as dusk fell Sunday by searchers who had found his tracks.

He had set out alone Wednesday in the Alpental ski area near Snoqualmie Pass, Wash., but failed to meet up with friends that night. He was reported missing the next day.

In Spokane, temperatures dropped to 15 below zero overnight Saturday, with 6 inches of snow on the ground Sunday. Temperatures were expected to stay in single digits and below zero Monday.

Snow remained on the ground in most parts of Eastern Washington, with 9 inches in Ritzville and 16 inches at Boundary Dam near Ione.

The National Weather Service warned that a strong Pacific storm would move into the Pacific Northwest late Monday, bringing warmer moisture into contact with the cold air.

Moderate to heavy snow was expected across all of Washington, including the lowlands, and Oregon. The snow was forecast to turn to rain in the lowlands Tuesday.

Snow was also forecast in the Olympics and Cascades, changing to freezing rain on approaches to the mountain passes on Tuesday.

"While it is too early to say exactly how much snow will fall, this event has the potential to be the heaviest and most widespread snow event for the Western Washington lowlands since the heavy snows after Christmas in 1996," the weather service said.

A changeover to rain on Tuesday could further worsen driving conditions by turning snow on the ground into thick slush, the weather service said.

In Bellingham on Sunday, winds of 30 to 40 mph sent temperatures with wind chill down to 5 to 10 degrees below zero.

Roads in the northern and southern parts of Western Washington were icy, with dozens of drivers spinning out but no injuries reported.

"We've had our share of crashes today - lot of spinouts and lot of frustrated people out there having trouble getting from point A to point B," said Washington State Patrol Lt. Ron Rupke in Vancouver.

He reported 32 accidents on Interstate 5 in Clark County and about 10 to 20 in Cowlitz County.

Trooper Lance Ramsay said about 25 cars had spun off the roads or into each other on I-5 in northern Skagit and Whatcom counties, but nobody was hurt. The State Patrol didn't even respond to about 10 of those accidents because the cars were in ditches or so far off the road that a tow truck was needed to help their drivers.

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