A potent storm is impacting the rain-weary Northwest early this week, dumping rain and snow on the region. This can be both hazardous and helpful as the West suffers from extreme drought and the far Northwest remains waterlogged from previous storms.
"After having over 10 inches of rain during the month of November, yet another storm is bringing more rain to Seattle on Monday," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.
The Northwest is coming off one of its wettest months on record, receiving rainfall on every day of November except three. Seattle recorded 10.26 inches of rain, while places to the north, like Abbotsford, British Columbia, recorded twice that amount of rain. This wet weather continued into the start of December as another storm began to track into the northwest United States. Fortunately for some, the storm track has shifted southwards, sparing places in Canada, like Abbotsford, from the worst of the impacts.
Despite the fact that the Pacific Northwest of the United States hasn't been hit nearly as hard by landslides and flooding as its Canadian counterpart by past storms, it is possible for the rain to aggravate saturated soil conditions and cause streams to rise once again in northwestern Washington, allowing for the returning risk of flooding and mudslides.
"This storm could bring a total of 0.50 to 1.00 inch of rain to Seattle, along with lowering snow levels with colder air in place," Pydynowski said.
Snow levels fell below pass level in the Cascades on Sunday night, allowing for an initial rapid accumulation. The roads may be hazardous as untreated slushy and wet areas froze overnight.
Up to 8 inches of snow were reported to the east of Seattle, with 6 inches falling around Roslyn, Washington.
Warm air was being drawn into the storm from the Pacific Ocean on Monday and that trend is expected to continue into Monday night.
"Any snowflakes around Seattle would be limited to the morning and midday hours on Monday with only rain for the balance of the storm into Monday night," AccuWeather Senior On-Air Meteorologist Justin Povick said, adding that the warmer air is also forecast to nose into the Cascades. Snow will become mixed with or change to rain over many of the passes Monday night.
After the storm crosses western Washington state, it is forecast to progress eastward over the Wasatch Range to the central Rockies early in the week, according to the AccuWeather long-range forecasters.
Areas in the Bitterroots, Oregon and western Montana could also have falling freezing levels down to 1,000 feet, causing travel disruptions in the passes. To the south, however, levels won't fall quite so low and are expected to be over 5,000 feet in the lower Wasatch Range and central Rockies.
Welcome snow could fall across the Intermountain West, along with parts of the Southwest, including parts of New Mexico and Arizona, rescuing ski resorts that took a hit from the recent warm rainstorms.
"Though for much of the region from Montana down to Oregon and down to the Great Basin, we are still in an exceptional drought," said AccuWeather On-Air Meteorologist Kevin Coskren.
While some of this precipitation could help out the West, it has a dangerous side.
"Any time there are fluctuating snow levels, a heavy amount of snow and varying snow density in the Cascades, there is an increased risk of avalanches with the steep terrain," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
There is a chance that Denver could break its persistent drought of snow later this week. The Mile High City has not received any measurable snow since April 21, which would make this the latest on record that snow of at least 0.1 of an inch or greater has not been measured, according to the National Weather Service office in Boulder, Colorado. The previous date which held the record for latest first snowfall in the city was Nov. 21, 1934. Should Denver miss out on the opportunity for some accumulating snow later this week, it could break the longest measurable snow drought on record from 1887 when it did not snow for 235 consecutive days. As of Monday, Dec. 6, accumulating snow had not been reported for 229 consecutive days.
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