by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Drivers in Gresham on Friday dealt with dry, blowing snow most of the day. The heavy snow came later.

Put your thick socks on and load up on the hot chocolate and firewood — the snowstorm that's hit the metro area is expected to last through the weekend.

It's possibly the biggest February snowstorm since 1995. Meteorologists are predicting somewhere between 2 and 5 inches of snow with temperatures hovering in the low to mid-20s.

Winter storm warnings, which indicate a combination of snow, ice or sleet and blowing snow, were issued at 10 a.m. Thursday for the greater Portland and Vancouver areas. The same goes for Salem, Albany and Hood River.

People have been advised to limit travel or stay home if they can.

Local schools closed early Thursday.

Freezing temperatures are expected to create icy and dangerous conditions on roads and freeways.

The most severe weather will be in the west end of the Columbia River Gorge with strong east winds creating blizzard conditions, according to forecasts.

A blizzard warning has been issued for Multnomah Falls, Corbett and Cascade Locks with the possibility of blowing snow 3 to 6 inches with steady winds up to 55 mph and gusts of 75 mph.

Friday and Saturday, another round of moisture is predicted to move in, starting Friday evening and continuing into Saturday. Forecasters call for more snow Friday evening for Portland and Vancouver with snow and rain or possible freezing rain in the central Willamette Valley.

Saturday may start dry, but light rain may develop over areas south of Portland with an afternoon round of snow or freezing rain in the metro area.

The city of Gresham announced it will deploy snow and ice removal equipment to the highest priority locations as weather conditions warrant. Residential streets will not be plowed due to the city's limited equipment.

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