September 16, 2019
A series of storm systems will pound the western United States with rain, mountain snow, unseasonably chilly air and gusty winds into midweek.Residents who basked in unseasonably warm weather late this past week and into the weekend might be scurrying for jackets and sweatshirts early this week as temperatures resemble those more typically seen during the middle of October.High temperatures will be no better than the 60s in the Interstate 5 corridor from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, and the valley regions of the northern Rockies. Highs in the 70s and 80s will be more common across the Central Valley of California.Temperatures in the higher terrain will be significantly lower than those in the valleys and are forecast to be low enough to support some snow.
Heightened fire danger to contrast mountain snow, chilly air in western US this week
"Snow levels will fall down to around 7,000 feet in Washington and Oregon, but the snow is not expected to cause many problems," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and western U.S. blogger Brian Thompson.Some snowflakes may also reach I-80's Donner Pass, as well as areas in Montana, Wyoming and Utah, that were hit with snow last week.With the high September sun angle and marginal temperatures, any snow is not expected to stick to roadways and will just serve to remind skiers and snow enthusiasts that the winter season is not too far away.
"It is possible that several inches of snow will fall on non-paved areas at and above some of the passes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.In addition to the snow, more bouts of soaking rain are on tap for areas in the Pacific Northwest that have already received more rain than usual during the first half of September.Through Sept. 15, both Seattle and Portland have received more than 1.5 inches of rain, which is more than what they typically get for the entire month."Some of the rain will be on the heavier side, and showers on Monday will likely reach as far south as the San Francisco Bay Area, with some spotty thunderstorms as far south as the Sacramento Valley and the Reno/Lake Tahoe area," Thompson added.As the storm system responsible for Monday's rain lifts into the northern Rockies by Tuesday, another one will sweep into the Pacific Northwest right on its heels."There could be some pockets of heavier rain, especially from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington down to the coastline of Northern California, where over an inch of rain may fall in spots," Thompson added.While the rain may cause travel delays, spoil outdoor activities and make carrying the umbrella to work a necessity through midweek, it will be largely beneficial since much of the Pacific Northwest was still in a moderate to severe drought on the latest U.S. Drought Monitor issued Sept. 12.Meanwhile, the main impact from these storm systems across the Southwest and Four Corners region will be to significantly stir up the wind, leading to an enhanced risk of wildfire development and spread.
There are dozens of wildfires still burning across the West, and the latest onslaught of gusty winds will only hamper firefighting efforts and lead to erratic, unpredictable fire behavior."The strongest winds will be focused across Nevada, Utah and the Sierra Nevada on Monday, before shifting to the east across Wyoming, Colorado and northern Arizona, on Tuesday," Thompson said.Thompson added that another round of strong winds is on tap for these same regions from Wednesday into Thursday.During both events, wind gusts of 40-50 mph will be common and could cause rapid spread of any wildfires triggered by lightning from thunderstorms.Campers and hikers are reminded to thoroughly extinguish cigarette butts and campfires in order to avoid the risk of igniting a new blaze.Although there are also many blazes currently burning in the northern Rockies, the upcoming spell of cool and showery weather should help firefighters get the upper hand on these blazes and prevent the development of new wildfires.By the end of the week, drier and more temperate weather should return to the majority of the West, giving residents a reprieve from the active pattern.
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