Treasure Valley residents who wished for a white Christmas will likely get more than they bargained for, with the snowstorms that started Friday morning continuing, off and on, well into Christmas Day, the National Weather Service reports.
It’s the heaviest snowfall of the season so far, expected to bring accumulations of 3 to 5 inches by late afternoon Saturday and 5 to 9 inches in the mountains. And an additional 2 to 3 inches of Valley snowfall is expected Saturday night and Sunday, Wasyl Hewko of the NWS said late Friday afternoon.
Flurries impeded visibility and made roadways slick for Friday afternoon’s commute, and local law enforcement agencies reported many crashes, most minor.
“It’s going to be hit or miss, depending on where you’re at,” Hewko said of the snow system moving through the Valley. “There’s holes in it like Swiss cheese.“
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NWS issued a winter weather advisory for Southwest Idaho on Friday morning through 11 a.m. Saturday, with snowfall tapering off after that point. The heaviest snowfall is expected after midnight, Hewko said.
At the Boise Airport, the agency measured 1.6 inches at noon and another 1.3 inches by 3:30 p.m., he said.
Idaho State Police reported numerous crashes on Interstate 84 during the daytime Friday and asked motorists to slow down. Then between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., ISP responded to 23 slide-offs and 11 crashes on Interstate 84 in the Treasure Valley, a dispatcher said. No one was injured in the crashes, she said.
Other agencies had their crash-investigative hands full, as well. By 2 p.m., the Ada County Sheriff’s Office had responded to 14 crashes, including four with injuries.
Roads leading away from Boise — Interstate 84 near Fruitland and Mountain Home, Idaho 55 at Horseshoe Bend Hill and U.S. 95 at Ion Summit south of Homedale — all reported snow on the road and slick conditions. In Oregon, I-84 between Baker City and La Grande was closed late Friday morning due to zero visibility at Ladd Canyon, but it fully reopened by 4 p.m.
If you’re traveling this weekend, check conditions before you go. For Idaho road conditions, call 511 for Idaho Transportation Department updates. As of 5 p.m. there were no “critical disruptions” across the state, according to the 511 recorded message. Or go online to check the latest road conditions in Idaho and Oregon.
Field maintenance crews at the Boise Airport were ready for the storm and are working to remove snow to keep runways open and safe. The airport does not expect to have any operational issues, spokesman Sean Briggs said.
“That being said, flights can still be delayed due to various factors, including de-icing, late arrivals, etc.,” Briggs said. “We encourage travelers to arrive 90 minutes in advance and to check in with their airlines for the latest flight information.”
The U.S. Postal Service asked residents to keep sidewalks, steps and mailboxes free of snow and ice.
“Snow and ice make delivery dangerous and slow. Maintaining a clear path to the mailbox — including steps, porches, walkways and street approach — will help postal carriers maintain consistent delivery service,” Boise Postmaster Dan Corral said in a written release.
Delivery service may be delayed or curtailed whenever streets or walkways present hazardous conditions for postal carriers or when snow is plowed against mailboxes. Service is attempted again the next delivery day.
Friday’s high temperature was about 23 degrees. Highs are expected to be in the low 30s Christmas Eve and in the mid-20s Christmas Day, Hewko said.
After patchy fog Sunday night and Monday morning, the sun is expected to come out later Monday. By Tuesday, there will be a 40 percent chance of snow and a high near 30 degrees.
A white Christmas usually hits the Treasure Valley about once every four years — though we’ve had one in both 2014 and 2015. And now it will be three years in a row.