A company that provides Portland City Hall with weather forecasts has just sounded a massive alarm for Winter Storm Maya.
In a memo sent to City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly's office today, Extended Range Weather Forecasting writes that next week's snow storm could be the worst in recent Pacific Northwest history—possibly worse that the record-breaking blizzards that hit Portland in 2008.
Monday, Feb. 11, through Saturday, Feb. 23, forecaster Phil Volker says the Willamette Valley could get 12 to 18 inches of snow.
"That is on top of the weekend snow and ice," he adds.
Volker predicts that temperatures will remain at or below freezing throughout next week, with multiple snow storms on their way to the region.
The storms, Volker says, will have "major impacts for western valleys and coastal areas, the gorge, basin and eastern Oregon," and "over to the Rockies."
"The event unfolding for next Monday through Wednesday could be the biggest snow event that I have seen in my lifetime living in the Pacific Northwest! That is not worst case nor trying to be melodramatic," Volker's memo reads. "If the new models are correct, and we are only talking 84 hours out, the storm Monday and Tuesday would be bigger than 'huge!"
The National Weather Service is more conservative. Colby Neuman, a NWS meteorologist, says it's too soon to predict the severity of next week's storms. But, he says there will be more than one of them.
"More than we've seen any time this winter, or in a lot of winters, we have a chance of having multiple snow storms next week," Neuman says. "We could have a large snow storm by our standards, it's just way too early to sound the alarm just yet."
Eudaly oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which is charged with de-icing roads during snow storms. Margaux Weeke, a spokesperson for Eudaly, says the transportation bureau is advising Portlanders to prepare for the worst.
"What we're trying to impress upon people right now is to really plan for this being a worst case scenario," Weeke says. "Look out for your neighbors, stock up on supplies and understand it will take a bit of time to go back to normal."
Weeke adds that nobody in need will be turned away from the city's warming shelters. She says that Portlanders with extra winter gear to donate should try to drop it off on their way home from work tonight.
"These events are serious and have far reaching impacts on all of us," ERF forecaster Volker writes, "Some of us are capable of getting around and helping others, but there will be those that need help. I love snow but this is going to be scary deep for many of us."