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Early-Autumn Pacific Storm Slams Northwest

UPDATED 5:45 AM PDT, September 30, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologists, Fred Allen and James West

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A major Pacific storm is spinning off the Northwest Coast, bringing very heavy rain and even potentially damaging winds. Even a bit of September snow is falling in the Cascades and will move into the northern Rockies.

A powerful low pressure system is squeezing out drenching rain from northern California all the way to Washington this morning. Even Washington`s Columbia Basin and eastern Oregon are getting pelted by heavy rain as well. Since Sunday morning, rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches have fallen.

The flow of heavy Pacific moisture will continue through the morning hours, with another 1 to 2 inches of rain expected today. A few areas in the high terrain of the Cascades and Olympics could squeeze out 3 or more inches of rain. The good news is that this will ease the ongoing drought across the Northwest, but the bad news is that it`s coming too fast, and too much rain in a short time will clog storm drains, leading to flash flooding.

Flood Watches and Warnings and Flash Flood Watches remain in place along the Washington and Oregon Cascades, the Idaho Panhandle and California`s Siskiyou Mountains. If you approach a flooded roadway, do not attempt to cross it as it is likely deeper than it appears. Remember, "Turn Around, Don`t Drown."

Rain isn`t the only threat that this early-autumn storm is producing. Gusty winds that are accompanying it will be enough to snap tree branches and knock out power along Interstates 90, 84, 82, and 5. Gusts could peak at 80 mph near the Washington and Oregon coast through this morning.

High Wind Warnings, High Wind Watches and Wind Advisories continue for much of the Pacific Northwest, northern California, northern Nevada, central Wyoming, and the western and central Montana mountains.

Additionally, cold air will drain southward as the storm moves inland, causing rain to change to snow in the Cascades and Northern Rockies. The Cascades could see as much as 8 inches of snow, making travel difficult across its passes. Farther to the east, the Idaho Panhandle into western Montana will get 2 to 5 inches on grassy spots.

Winter Weather Advisories for the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, as well as the Bitterroots of Idaho and Montana.

The main energy with the weather system will lift into central Canada by early Tuesday, ending the worst part of the rain and wind. However, a weaker upper disturbance will slide south from the Gulf of Alaska, bringing back more rain and mountain snow to the Northwest by mid-week.

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