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Sydney, Australia

Today's Weather Outlook

UPDATED 7:30 AM EDT, March 18, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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The U.S. will be a study in contrasts to round out St. Patrick`s Day weekend. The West will remain mired in its late-winter slump, while summer-like thunderstorms and temperatures rivaling that of late-spring envelop the Rockies all the way to the Atlantic beaches.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Bryan Karrick has the latest in this exclusive WeatherBug National Outlook Video.

A powerful late-winter storm will swirl its way across the Great Basin and northern Rockies, producing heavy mountain snow for the Sierra Nevada, Wasatch Range, and Rockies, with valley rain falling along the West Coast and Desert Southwest. A few downpours and thunderstorms will grace residents along the Interstate 5 from Los Angeles to San Diego, as well as from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Although it won`t be a washout or whiteout, travel will be a difficult task along rain-and-snow-covered roadways.

An extension of the big Western U.S. storm will also leave its mark across the Nation`s Heartland today. A few fresh thunderstorms will bubble up in the summer-like weather pattern encompassing the eastern and central two-thirds of the U.S. A few of these storms will bring very large hail and destructive wind gusts in addition to isolated tornadoes for the western High Plains this afternoon. Anywhere from West Texas to southern Nebraska will have to watch for threatening weather.

The only other weather hiccup in the Eastern U.S. will be found from the Ohio Valley into the Carolinas. Here, pop-up showers and thunderstorms will dot the landscape. Although they won`t reach severe limits like the Plains, a few will contain torrential downpours and intense lightning. For those who miss the storms, mid-March sunshine will be a blessing in the sky.

Much like Saturday, temperatures will be a stark contrast between the West and everywhere east of the Rockies today. Those cold-weather revelers will need to look no further than the West Coast, Great Basin and Rockies, where the mercury will only manage the 40s and 50s in the lower elevations; chillier 20s and 30s will cover the higher mountain peaks. Widespread 60s, 70s and 80s will rule the Central and Eastern U.S.

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