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The National Weather Service says the coldest air mass of the season will move over the Pacific Northwest Sunday night and linger for most of this week, likely bringing snow levels below 1,000 feet.

“Low pressure is expected to set up just offshore Sunday night and Monday bringing light precipitation to the region. Precipitation will likely fall as snow for much of the Coast Range, Willapa Hills, and Cascade foothills bringing the first accumulating snowfall of the winter to these areas,” the service’s Portland office said in a forecast Sunday afternoon.

The service issued a special weather statement Sunday morning for most of Western Oregon that predicted anywhere from 2 to 7 inches of snow, with higher accumulations above 1,000 feet.

“At the coast and in the inland valleys, sticking snow will be harder to come by. One to three inches are possible, but this will be mainly above 500 feet, and during the day Monday,” the service said in the statement.

Angela Beers Seydel, a public information officer with the Oregon Department of Transportation, said Sunday that ODOT is closely watching conditions to prepare for whatever hits.

Beers Seydel said before events like this, ODOT shifts its crews to schedules that provide 24-hour coverage, check all equipment and do any work they can in advance. She added that before some storms, road crews will put down de-icer in advance to keep snow and ice from bonding from the pavement.

“In this storm things could be a little tricky because it is predicted to rain first. The rain washes the de-icer off the road — a waste of time and resources. We sand, often mixed with deicer, once the storm is underway to provide traction, when and where appropriate. Our crews know their roads well and have a good sense what works best where, and when,” she said.

She added that with some planning, the right tools, cooperation, and people driving for conditions, everyone will be able to get where they’re going safely. It may just take a bit longer than usual.

“The rain in the mix means that it is extra important that people remember that each of us are part of travel safety. Know what you’re heading into. Check TripCheck.com for latest road conditions, and look at any cameras on the route. Have supplies in the car — chains, blankets, food, water, and medications. Know your comfort level with winter driving. If you can delay until things are clear, do. If you have to go, slow down, leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles, turn your lights on to be seen, and turn off your cruise control so you have full control,” she said.

Darrin Lane, director of the Linn County Road Department, said his crews spent part of the last week preparing for the possible storm, including readying the county’s snow removal equipment and checking on tires and chains.

He said the county is ready for whatever winter weather hits.

“The only challenging issue is that we can’t use our anti-icing liquid while it’s raining,” he said. “Motorists will need to exercise caution on Monday morning if we have freezing temperatures overnight.”

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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