Far-reaching storm to deliver disruptive rain, mountain snow across western US into Christmas

renee.duff

People with last-minute holiday travel plans across the southwestern United States may be hindered by rain, snow and gusty winds through Christmas Day.

"A wintry storm is dropping through the region, bringing heavy, widespread precipitation and cooler weather to many," AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

"Anyone planning on traveling through the western U.S. on Christmas Day should prepare for potential travel delays," she added.

The Northwest has been the main target for recent storms, but this early week storm is taking a track farther to the south, bringing precipitation to much of California, the Great Basin and Four Corners region.

Rain and interior snow first swept through Northern and central California and the Great Basin on Monday and Monday night, which caused slippery conditions over Interstate 80's Donner Pass.

The storm will drop into Southern California and the Four Corners region with showers and snow on Tuesday.

Motorists should use caution along stretches of interstates 5, 10 and 15 as even a small amount of rain can heighten the risk of hydroplaning, especially if there is oil buildup on the roadway.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see if the weather could impact your holiday travels.

SW regional 12.25 AM

"As cold air plunges southward, wind-swept snow can fall down to the Grapevine corridor of Interstate 5, leading to slick conditions and reduced visibility through Christmas Day," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Snow levels should not fall enough for snow along I-15's Cajon Pass.

Rain showers can dampen Las Vegas and Phoenix on Tuesday, so anyone heading to holiday get-togethers will want to make sure they bring along an umbrella. Thunderstorms cannot be ruled out in southern and eastern Arizona.

"Wet weather can even make it as far south as Los Angeles, potentially leading to a gray and drizzly Christmas morning," Eherts said.

The storm will also pack gusty winds along its journey through the Southwest, which can make for turbulent flights into and out of the major airport hubs and require motorists to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.

Beyond the West, AccuWeather meteorologists expect this storm to unleash heavy snow, rain and severe thunderstorms across the nation's midsection during the busy travel days following Christmas.