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Winter Storm Lashes Northwest, Rockies

2:30 PM PST, January 12, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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A strong winter storm is piercing the Northwest and Rockies this weekend. The storm is already responsible for knocking power to thousands in western Washington and promises gusty winds, heavy snow and avalanche potential in the Rockies.

Heavy rain is soaking the Northwest Coast while snow plagues the Cascades into the Rockies. One to 2 inches of downpours will sock places like Seattle and Portland, Ore. In the colder Northwest mountains, 8 to 12 inches of snow slam the Cascades with 1 to 2 feet burying the Central Rockies.

A strong pressure difference between low pressure sliding through southwestern Canada and a strong high pressure ridge anchored off the West Coast will funnel in high winds. Gusts will reach 80 mph across the Northern Rockies, causing significant blowing and drifting of snow, making travel difficult, if not impossible along Interstates 15, 25, 80 and 90 today. Remember, if you must travel through the mountain passes, have a winter survival kit on hand in your vehicle.

Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are posted from the Cascades into the Colorado Rockies. Avalanche Warnings have also been posted in parts of Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming where gusty winds and heavy snow will create possible avalanches through Monday.

Meanwhile, High Wind Warnings, Watches, and Wind Advisories are in effect from the Oregon/Washington border to the Dakotas and Nebraska.

The Pacific high pressure ridge will slowly edge east, shutting off the moisture inflow to the Northwest Coast by Monday. Still, snow will continue across the Northern Rockies to kick off the work week. By the midweek, high pressure will slide into the Rockies, allowing the weather to dry out and winds to relax in the Mountain West.

The storm system has already been responsible for prolific winds in the Northwest and Rockies. Marys Peak along western Oregon`s Central Coast Range had a peak gust at 85 mph early Saturday. A reporting station in Greycliff, Mont., had a gust to 77 mph on Saturday while the Livingston Airport in Montana saw a gust clocked at 75 mph. The gusty winds were responsible for knocking out power to 40,000 people in western Washington, including 28,000 in Seattle.

Although the storm is coming at a cost with gusty winds, the moisture is desperately needed in the Northwest. Seattle`s precipitation is 8 inches below average since October 1, with much of the Northwest and Mountain West in a moderate to severe drought.

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