Winter storm watch issued for Saturday night into Sunday; emergency shelter to remain open
By Bert Etling and Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
Heavy snow early Friday closed schools and Interstate 5, while continued cold weather in the forecast caused the city of Ashland to extend operation of its emergency severe weather shelter through Friday morning of next week.
Ashland School District closed schools Friday due to snow and icy conditions that emerged from snow overnight on Thursday evening and into the early hours on Friday. Steve Mitzel, executive director of operations at Ashland School District, on Wednesday said the district delineates between whether to run buses as regularly scheduled, operate on a two-hour delay or close for the day. Superintendents participate in a call with the National Weather Service ahead of forecasted snow events to get an idea what’s in store.
“They’re able to tell us, when are these cells coming through, are they going to hit right when we’re trying to transport kids,” Mitzel said.
A call and text message went out to local media and families of students after 6:30 a.m. on Friday to share the snow day news. The day before, Thursday, schools were open but buses followed “snow routes,” avoiding some hilly areas.
“Our biggest trouble with buses is usually on these hills right here in town,” Mitzel said. “Those are the ones that are tricky.
“Probably the most important thing beyond safety, ’cause safety’s No. 1, is the impact it has on families.”
Mitzel said the district always takes into consideration the impact that closing schools has on families.
Winter storm watch issued
A winter storm watch will be in effect from late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon at elevations above 2,500 feet, the National Weather Service announced Friday afternoon. Ashland sits at about 2,000 feet, while Siskiyou Summit on I-5 reaches 4,310 feet.
A winter storm watch means there is potential for significant snow accumulations that may create dangerous travel, the weather service said.
Heavy snow is possible above 2,500 feet, with total snow accumulations of 5 to 8 inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Travel could be very difficult. Snow levels could drop as low as 1,500 feet.
Forecast highs for Saturday through Thursday, respectively, are 52, 41, 41, 40, 40 and 45.
Lows are expected to be 31, 26, 25, 23, 23 and 30, respectively, Saturday through Thursday nights.
Weather is expected to be sunny Saturday, moving to rain and snow Sunday, snow Monday and Tuesday, and partly sunny Wednesday and Thursday.
Emergency shelter remains open
The city of Ashland’s emergency weather shelter at 48 5th St., which had been scheduled to close Saturday morning, will now remain open through Thursday night, March 2, closing Friday morning, March 3, the city announced Friday afternoon.
City policy calls for opening a shelter when the NWS forecast is for temperatures of 32 or below.
The shelter opens at 5 p.m. each evening. Doors close for the night at 9 p.m., with lights out at 10 p.m. This is a no-frills shelter, which means individuals should plan on providing their own bedding. Well-behaved pets are welcome. The shelter closes at 9 a.m.
For additional information, contact community volunteer Avram Sacks of Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) at 541-220-7307 or 541-631-2235. The shelter is operated by OHRA for the city of Ashland.
To sign up for text alerts with shelter information, text 97520SHELTER to 888777.
How did you and your student spend your snow day? Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth wants to know! Reach her at email@example.com. Your comments and photos may be shared on social media. Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text him at 541-631-1313.