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Late-week snowstorm to unfold in southwestern US amid reinforcing cold blast

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 2/18/2019 renee.duff
a close up of a map: midweek 2.18 AM © Provided by Accuweather, Inc midweek 2.18 AM

A late-week storm with a reinforcing shot of cold air will bring snow to both the high and low elevations of the western United States, with the potential for a significant snowfall in the Southwest.

This resurgence of snow and cold follows a storm that brought the Grapevine in Southern California to a standstill and Las Vegas its second snowfall of the season on Sunday night.

Heavy snow will continue to bury Arizona, New Mexico and southern Colorado through Monday night as the first storm rolls through.

These areas will only have a brief dry break before the next wave of wintry conditions arrives.

"An abnormally cold storm system is expected to swing southward along the West coast during the middle of the week," said AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Joseph Bauer.

The Pacific Northwest will be the first area to feel the effects of the storm late Tuesday into Wednesday, with mostly rain showers for coastal areas and snow for the interior.

Slippery travel can be anticipated over the Washington and Oregon cascades, including Interstate 90's Snoqualmie Pass.

Residents in Spokane, Washington; Bend, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho, can also expect several inches of snow and disruptions to travel and daily routines.

Snowflakes can mix with rain in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, for part of the storm, but a repeat of the snow events from earlier in February is not in the cards.

AccuWeather meteorologists expect the storm to strengthen and gain moisture as it sweeps into the Southwest beyond midweek.

"By Thursday morning, snow will begin across the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains in Southern California to central Arizona around Flagstaff," Bauer said.

a close up of a map: West storm 2.18 AM © Provided by Accuweather, Inc West storm 2.18 AM

Heavy snow will spread through eastern Arizona and western New Mexico later Thursday into Friday.

In Southern California, snow levels are expected to drop to similar levels as what was experienced to end this past weekend, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

This will result in more travel difficulties and potential closures of the Grapevine along I-5, as well as Cajon Pass.

"With this system being abnormally cold, freezing levels will be quite low for this event, bringing heavy snow to lower elevations which do not frequently receive snow," Bauer said.

This includes in Las Vegas, where it is not out of the question for the city to pick up an inch or more of snow during this event.

The last time Las Vegas picked up measurable snowfall (0.10 of an inch or greater) was on Dec. 17, 2008, when 3.6 inches of snow was recorded at the city's international airport.

Bauer expects the heaviest snow with this storm to fall over the Mogollon Rim of Arizona, where snowfall can be measured in feet.

This includes around Flagstaff, Arizona.

Travel will be dangerous and nearly impossible during the height of the storm as the snow falls at a rapid pace and visibility is reduced, including along I-40.

"Disruptions to logistical operations are expected including transportation delays and road and interstate closures," Bauer said.

School closures are also likely, in addition to airline delays.

It is not out of the question for enough cold air to plunge in for accumulating snow to fall as far south as Tucson, Arizona, during the tail end of the storm.

Continue to check back with AccuWeather.com to receive the latest details on this upcoming storm and download the free AccuWeather app to see the latest forecast for your area.

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