A very active weather pattern is expected to ensue across the Western U.S. by early next week as a strong area of low pressure develops just offshore of the Pacific Northwest Sunday night and moves inland on Monday across the Intermountain West.
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Strong onshore flow will drive copious amounts of moisture inland and this will initially yield heavy rain Sunday night for the coastal ranges of especially western Oregon and northwest California with heavy snowfall over the Cascades.
On Monday, all of this moisture along with colder temperatures will overspread the Great Basin and the northern Rockies as a cold front pushes east with the aforementioned low center.
This will set the stage for a major late-season winter storm with strong winds and widespread heavy snowfall for the Intermountain West and especially for the northern Rockies going through Monday night into early Tuesday.
Going through early Tuesday, as much as 1 to 2 feet of snow will be possible for the higher terrain, with the heaviest amounts this period expected to be over the Oregon Cascades.
Heavy snow and strong winds spread into the Northern Plains on Tuesday.
The heaviest snow is likely to focus over eastern Montana and western North Dakota, where over a foot of snow is possible.
Meanwhile, in the lee of the Rockies involving the central and southern High Plains, there will be notable concerns for wildfire activity through the remainder of the weekend and into early next week as locally gusty winds, low relative humidity, and lack of soil moisture given the ongoing drought all work in tandem to promote elevated to critical fire weather concerns.
This threat will continue until the strong storm system in the West ejects out into the Plains midweek.
Areas of the Central and Eastern U.S. will be relatively tranquil compared to the Western U.S., but there will be a cold front crossing the Midwest and the Great Lakes region late Sunday through Monday, and this will bring a threat of rain and perhaps a little wet snow to areas of the Upper Midwest.
Farther south across portions of the lower Missouri Valley and gradually the southern Plains to the middle Mississippi Valley, there will be a threat of showers and thunderstorms as the aforementioned front drops down across this region.
On Monday some severe weather will be possible across these areas, and the Storm Prediction Center has highlighted a Slight Risk of severe weather as thunderstorms will be capable of producing large hail, damaging winds, and a couple of tornadoes.
The threat of severe weather returns to portions of the Central/Southern Plains and Middle/Lower Mississippi Valley by midweek. ■