Winter Storm Warning Update as Over Five Feet of Snow Expected

winter storm warning update as over five feet of snow expected

A cross country skiier is seen walking through snow in Rock Creek in the Sierra Nevada Range on May 24, 2016. The mountain range is expected to be hit by five feet of snow this week.

Winter storm warnings are in place for parts of six states as another “significant” front from the Pacific Ocean makes landfall in the west on Wednesday, bringing several feet of snow to mountain regions.

The National Weather Service has issued alerts for Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, warning of blowing snow and strong winds causing whiteout conditions in places.

In its latest forecast, the NWS said the storm would primarily affect the northwest on Wednesday and Thursday before moving into the northern and central Californian mountains on Friday. Regions of northeastern California are under blizzard warnings.

“The storm will create heavy mountain snow that will affect many passes,” it warned. “Multiple feet of snow are likely (over 80 percent chance) for higher elevations, significantly above 5,000 feet, including many Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains passes. Extremely heavy snow rates surpassing 3 inches per hour are possible in these mountain ranges.”

The weather agency also said that the storm would produce blizzard conditions in the Sierra Nevadas as strong winds cause blowing and drifting snow, making travel in the region impossible. There is a more than 70 percent chance of “substantial, long-lasting disruptions to daily life” as in excess of five feet of snow is anticipated to fall.

It comes after another winter storm from the Pacific made landfall earlier this week before moving into the Intermountain West, bringing intense snowfall from Utah to Wyoming and Colorado.

Western states have already faced several bouts of heavy snowfall so far this winter, having been subjected to a “prolific series” of atmospheric rivers that brought a rare blizzard warning for Seattle in early January.

In the Cascades of western Washington and Oregon, additional snow accumulations of up to two feet are expected at elevations above 2,500 feet, with winds gusting as high as 50 miles an hour. In the Blue Mountains, snow accumulations of up to 20 inches and winds of 60 miles an hour are forecast.

Avalanche warnings are in place for the Cascades of Washington until Wednesday evening.

In northern Idaho, up to 20 inches of snow is expected in mountain areas, with smaller totals at lower elevations. Winds are expected to reach 50 miles an hour.

These weather conditions are anticipated to continue into western Montana, where up to a foot of snow is forecast for elevations above 4,000 feet. Additionally, 45-mile-per-hour winds could bring down tree branches in the region.

Up to two feet of snow is anticipated in the Siskiyou mountains of Northern California, with winds reaching 60 miles per hour. In higher elevation areas of Del Norte County, snow accumulations are set to reach 26 inches with winds of up to 80 miles an hour.

Across Northern California, visibility is expected to drop below a quarter of a mile at times, while strong winds could down power lines, causing “sporadic” outages. The NWS cautioned residents to delay all travel if possible.

From Friday to Sunday, up to four feet of snow is forecast across the Sierra Nevadas above 9,000 feet, with locally higher amounts possible. Winds of 60 miles an hour could cause tree damage.

The NWS said the storm will also bring coastal rain to parts of the Pacific Northwest from Wednesday into Friday, moving north to south.

It follows a pair of powerful atmospheric river storms from the Pacific Ocean which brought widespread flooding to California earlier in the month.

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