There is a huge storm engulfing the Pacific Northwest right now, and scientists forecast it will be the first significant storm since last winter, triggering a broad range of hazards.
“It will be a beast of a storm,” Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said… and it could end up being one of the most intense of the entire wet season.
The first rain drops arrived from Seattle to Portland on Thursday evening, and precipitation continued to push farther inland through Thursday night and Friday morning. As the precipitation encountered colder air in the higher elevations, snow began falling in the Washington Cascades.
Snow levels that were initially around 4,000 feet on Thursday night will fall to around 2,000 feet during the day Friday as a cold front associated with the area of low pressure moving ashore brings lower temperatures.
Some passes are already closed for the winter season, but those that remain open will be snow-packed and slippery as snow piles up through the day Friday.
Below 2,000 feet, where precipitation will remain in the form of rain, some localized instances of flooding may occur in places where rain falls most heavily. This would be most likely along the immediate coast and in the foothills of the Cascades.
During the day Friday and into Friday evening, precipitation will expand into Northern California, northern and central Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming, northern Nevada and Utah.
At the coast in California, rain will fall heavily at times. Elsewhere, snow will fall at a furious pace.
“Travel will be extremely difficult and treacherous through early Saturday morning for anyone trying to head across the Washington and Oregon cascades with heavy snow falling down to pass levels, including Stevens and Snoqualmie Passes in Washington,” Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
By the time the snow winds down on Saturday afternoon, a general 1 to 2 feet of snow will fall in most locations above 4,000 feet, with an expected 40 inches at the highest elevations in the Cascades and northern Rockies.
Precipitation, whether it be rain or snow, will not be all that residents of the Northwest will encounter with this storm. Wind will be widespread throughout the West.
In areas of heavy rain or heavy snow, this will cause reduced visibility. In addition, snowdrifts can become several feet high. Reduced visibility and drifting snow will only be two potential impacts from the high winds.
“In addition to difficult travel, sporadic power outages will also be a concern through Friday evening along the I-5 corridor from Portland to Seattle as wind gusts of 30-40 mph will be strong enough to down some tree limbs, which could cause some damage to power lines,” Pydynowski said.
While wind gusts will be 30-40 mph in many cities along I-5, winds could gust over 60 mph along the immediate Oregon coast on Friday. By Friday night and Saturday, similar wind gusts are likely in the higher elevations of Montana and Idaho (up to 90 mph).
Anyone who may have gotten an early start on outdoor Christmas decorations will want to make sure they are secured so they do not become projectiles in the strong winds. In addition, anyone using a generator will want to make sure it is in good working order before the winds reach their peak.
Yet another storm could come ashore Saturday night, but it does not look as potent as its predecessor. However, a brief period of heavy rain could affect coastal Oregon Saturday night and Sunday morning, before precipitation becomes lighter.
By the way, if during this storm the sky turns green go into cover! It may announce big hail and/ or tornado.
If you are already planning your Christmas gifts, please buy with us on Amazon. The affiliate sales will help us to continue the hard work we are putting in this website.