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Rounds of rain, mountain snow to focus on northwestern US as Pacific storm train begins

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 10/15/2019 Alex Sosnowski

A series of storms from the northern Pacific Ocean will roll ashore into the Pacific Northwest into next week and will serve as a reminder that winter is not far away.

Motorists venturing over the passes or along the highways at lower elevations can no longer take the weather for granted as the pattern in the northwestern unfolds in the coming days.

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This image, taken on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, shows a large portion of the northern Pacific Ocean. The United States west coast on the right side of the image while Alaska is located at the top, left of center. At least two large swirls of clouds can be seen that are indicative of storms. The swirl of clouds approaching Alaska is the former Super Typhoon Hagibis. (NOAA/GOES)

None of the storms appear to be powerful enough to bring widespread damaging winds, but they will bring rounds of rain and mountain snow and periodic blustery conditions.

Snow levels will vary with each storm but will dip down to pass level on occasion in the Washington Cascades. Meanwhile, episodes of rain can briefly be heavy enough to cause isolated urban flooding in the Interstate 5 corridor of Washington and Oregon.

Rain will fall at most of the Washington passes from Tuesday night into Wednesday night.

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However, on Thursday, the snow level is expected to dip to Stevens Pass, Washington, so that a slushy accumulation cannot be ruled out along portions of U.S. Route 2.

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On Saturday, similar conditions can occur at Stevens Pass, and perhaps at slightly lower elevations, including at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, along Interstate 90.

Hikers venturing into the high country will be at risk for becoming stranded in the pattern. Each successive storm will add snow and bring episodes of poor visibility, falling temperatures and gusty winds. Through the middle of next week, several feet of snow may pile up over the high country.

In terms of rainfall, much of the western portions of Washington and Oregon have been abnormally dry in recent weeks. The weather pattern into next week may help many areas get back on track and then some.

It is possible that as the pattern continues into next week, too much rain may fall and raise the risk of mudslides and other debris flows. From Wednesday, Oct. 16, through Wednesday, Oct. 23, a foot of rain may fall on the western slopes of the Washington Cascades and Olympic range at lower elevations.

Similar and perhaps heavier amounts of low-elevation rain and mountain snow are anticipated over the Coast Mountains in British Columbia and somewhat lower amounts of rain and snow are likely along the west-facing slopes of the Oregon Cascades and Coast Ranges.

A few rain showers may survive the trip east of the Cascades over the central counties of Washington and Oregon in the pattern. Meanwhile, portions of eastern Washington and Oregon can pick up an inch or two of rain over the seven-day period with a few inches of snow in store for the higher elevations in northern Idaho and western Montana.

The pattern will also help to end concerns for wildfires over much of the Northwest.

Another Santa Ana event may target California

Farther south, the storms and their rain and mountain snow will continue to avoid much of California, Nevada and Arizona into next week.

The risk of wildfire ignition and spread will remain elevated, even though winds most days in the Southwest states will be light. The brush remains extremely dry with the air desertlike.

There is the potential for a weak to moderate Santa Ana event early next week.

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While winds appear as though they will be much less forceful than that of last week, given the tinder dry conditions, even breezes from the mountains and deserts can lead to a substantial uptick in the wildfire danger.

Temperatures are likely to be several degrees Fahrenheit higher than that of last week, which could make up for lighter winds with this forecast event.

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