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Snow, Cold Weather Grip Western U.S.

UPDATED 4 AM PST, December 7, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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Winter is gripping large stretches of the West to begin the weekend. A fresh winter storm is rushing into California and the Great Basin today, with its sights set on the Wasatch and Rockies before the weekend is finished.

Low pressure in northern Nevada is sending a powerful cold front through central California this morning. Rain is soaking California`s Central Coast with snow brushing the Sierra, Great Basin and parts of the Central Rockies. Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories extend from the Sierra into the Rockies through the weekend.

An additional 1 to 5 inches will coat the Sierra with up to 16 inches expected in the highest peaks of the Great Basin, Wasatch and Rockies. Downtown Salt Lake City will likely see 3 to 6 inches. Even the western part of the Las Vegas valley will see a coating to 2 inches on grassy surfaces.

Rainfall amounts along the central and southern California coast will generally be a half-inch or less. The rain is much needed with places like Los Angeles in a yearly deficit of almost 10 inches.

The upper-level steering currents will quickly push the storm along this weekend. By early Sunday, the low pressure will almost be to Denver. In its wake, cold air will re-establish itself across the West. Low temperatures will dip below freezing for several hours early Sunday, threatening the growing season in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

Hard Freeze Warnings and Freeze Warnings have been posted for late tonight into Sunday morning for the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys all the way to the coast, including Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and Bakersfield, Calif., where lows will drop into the 20s, threatening tender cold vegetation once again. It`s also a good idea to keep faucets dripping so the water pipes don`t burst.

The cold weather pattern will lock itself across the West to begin the work week. Temperatures in the interior California valleys will only warm into the 40s with nighttime lows in the 20s through midweek before a slow moderating trend begins Wednesday.

The average early December temperatures range from the middle 50s during the day to the upper 30s at night across the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

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