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Mountain Snow, Valley Rain Keeps Northwest Reeling

UPDATED 8 PM PST, December 14, 2010

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Andrew Rosenthal

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A Pacific storm is passing through the Pacific Northwest and into the Rockies tonight, bringing waves of heavy snow to the Wasatch and Intermountain West. A bit of heavy rain and even a few thunderstorms are pummeling the valleys from California to Washington.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Rachel Peterson has the latest on today`s Northwest rain and mountain snow threat in this exclusive WeatherBug Weather Video.

The storm system is just clearing the Pacific Northwest, bringing with it heavy snowfall across the Cascades and heavy rain and thunderstorms in the lower elevations. Earlier today, a tornado injured 2 people and damaged houses and businesses in Aumsville, Ore., and another storm tore through Lincoln City, Ore., with 61 mph winds. At a WeatherBug Live Tracking Station in Stevenson, Wash., a rainfall total of 1.90 inches was recorded, while South Bend, Wash., saw 1.32 inches of rain and Gresham, Ore., totaled 1.25 inches of rain.

In the mountains, 5 to 10 inches of snow have already fallen across the Cascades and northern Rockies, and the snowflakes continue to fly. Another 7 to 13 inches will fall across the Cascades through Wednesday morning as waves of Pacific moisture slide onshore behind the storm`s cold front. With the colder air pouring in from the north, the snow level will drop to around 1,500 feet tonight and send snowflakes flying into the Cascade foothills.

Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories continue for the Cascade, Olympic and Coast Ranges of Oregon and Washington.

Meanwhile, the storm is starting its march to the south and east into California and the Mountain West. Snowflakes are now flying above 6,000 feet across the northern and central Sierra Nevada, where 9 to 18 inches of fresh snow will fall through Wednesday afternoon. From the Bitterroot and Tetons to the Wasatch and Colorado Rockies, snowflakes are flying as well. By Wednesday evening, 8 to 16 inches of snow will fall above a 2,000 foot snow level.

Winter Storm Warnings are in effect in the higher elevation of the Wasatch and Idaho`s Southwest Highlands, as well as the northern Sierra Nevada while Winter Weather Advisories are in place in the central Sierra Nevada, Bitterroot and Teton Mountains of Montana, lower elevations of the Wasatch, and the western Colorado Rockies.

The unsettled weather pattern that has been common in the Northwest for the last week or two is typical of a La Nina winter. A fast jet stream of upper-level air moving across the northern Pacific brings storms and associated Pacific moisture to the Northwest Coast before moving into the northern Rockies. These storms have the potential to each bring as much as 1 to 2 feet of snow, with several inches of rain in the valleys.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter at WeatherBug WeatherBuzz.

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