Forecast: Snow at pass level by Saturday afternoon

EUGENE, Ore. - As Oregonians watch the mountains for the first snow of the season, forecasters said the big "if" looks more and more like when.

"Colder air will nudge the cold pool aloft further south about every 12 to 24 hours over the weekend, bringing significant shower activity to the region," National Weather Service forecasters in Portland said Thursday. "Snow levels will also gradually drop, with accumulating snow showers perhaps first reaching Santiam and Willamette passes by late Saturday afternoon."

The ground's warmth could keep much snow from piling up during the day, but by Saturday night and Sunday morning snow levels will remain below the passes.

This isn't a major winter storm; forecasters don't expect much more than a couple inches at pass level, with showers ending Sunday afternoon.

The timing of the storm could complicate viewing of the Orionids meteor shower, which peaks overnight Saturday into Sunday.

Through next Wednesday, forecasters predict off and on showers.

"The models indicate that snow levels will remain down near the cascade passes, potentially dropping even a bit lower at times," forecasters wrote. "Expect cloudy and damp conditions with temps running several degrees below normal through the extended period."

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Santiam Pass Camera | Willamette Pass Camera | Forecast