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Brutal Winter Storms Set to Batter Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies

5 months ago
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A parade of powerful storms is set to impact the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies over the next few days, bringing the first significant snowfall of the season along with teeth-chattering cold. The one-two punch of wintry weather could snarl travel and lead to dangerously low wind chills.

The first in the procession of storms brewing off the Pacific Ocean was expected to crash ashore as early as Monday evening. Meteorologists expected this initial system to drench coastal areas with heavy rain while laying down a dense, wet blanket of snow in the mountains.

"Snow levels should creep up to around 6,000 feet Monday night before colder air sweeps in on Tuesday, sending the snow line plunging to 2,000 feet or lower," said Senior Meteorologist Heather Zehr. "The rapidly changing conditions will make mountain travel extremely hazardous with the likelihood of snow-covered, icy roads."

As the storm pushes inland on Tuesday, intense precipitation bands will spread as far east as Idaho and Montana. Strong winds accompanying the system could whip the falling snow into a blinding, disorienting blast.

"The combination of heavy snow and powerful gusts over 50 mph will create periodic whiteout conditions in the high country," said Meteorologist Andrew Kienzle. "At times, visibility could drop to nearly zero, making mountain passes impassable."

But not just the mountains will feel Old Man Winter's wrath. Forecasters expect snow showers to dust typically mild locations such as Seattle and Portland on Tuesday as the mercury struggles to climb above freezing. Snow accumulation could lead to slick roads and travel headaches across the I-5 corridor.

And the region’s first bout with winter weather is only a precursor of what’s to come. Additional storms following close on the heels of the first will continue the parade of precipitation through at least the end of the week.

Behind this conveyor belt of wet weather, the coldest air of the young season will come blasting down from the Arctic. The core of the polar plunge is expected to arrive on Thursday, sending temperatures into a nosedive.

“Readings may fail to get out of the teens and 20s with overnight lows below zero across the northern Rockies and Inland Northwest,” said Zehr. “The bone-chilling cold will likely last into next week.”


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