The blast of arctic air spreading across the nation will set the stage for a winter storm to threaten the Northwest later this week.
Frigid air will not only spend this week pouring across the eastern two-thirds of the nation, but will also spill into the Northwest.
What will prove to be the coldest air so far this fall will arrive during the first part of the week, shaving about 10 to 20 degrees off highs this weekend.
As the cold air oozes in, gusty winds will create even lower AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday.
The winds that funnel through the Columbia Gorge will pick up speed, in a fashion similar to what happens between buildings in a city, and produce gusts of 40 to 60 mph near the western mouth of the gorge Tuesday through early Wednesday.
The strongest winds will whip Troutsdale, Oregon, with gusts of 40 to 50 mph expected in Portland.
Such winds could cause tree damage and power outages. Dangerous cross-winds will threaten high-profile vehicles, including those traveling on Interstate 84.
As the winds die down, attention will then turn toward a new Pacific storm due to arrive late in the week.
While the storm will be far from the strongest to slam the region, the presence of the cold air will set the stage for snow and ice to fall outside of the mountains and create travel hazards.
Current indications point toward an icy mix developing along the I-5 corridor in northern Oregon and southern Washington Wednesday night through Thursday morning.
Portland and Salem, Oregon, lie in this zone and will have to prepare for treacherous travel to unfold and possible power outages.
Farther to the north, snowflakes may make an appearance around Seattle Thursday morning. A northward shift to the storm, however, could spread the ice threat to Seattle.
A band of accumulating snow is also set to create slippery roads across eastern Oregon and southern Idaho Wednesday night through Friday. This includes Bend and Pendleton, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho.
How much snow whitens southeastern Washington will depend on how far north the storm tracks.
Residents of the Northwest should continue to check back with AccuWeather.com as more precise details on this impending winter storm unfold.
Drier weather will return next weekend as the storm heads eastward to cross the remainder of the country. Through Monday of the following week, the storm may lay a swath of snow from the central Plains to the Northeast.