Fox News Weather Center

Storm Train to Return to Northwestern US By Late Week

As much of the northwestern United States will receive relief from the continuous storm train through midweek, storms will return to the region late this week and into next week.

As new storms rolled across the Northwest almost daily for the first two weeks of this month, storms starting late this week and continuing into next week will move across the region every two or three days.

"A storm in the Gulf of Alaska will continue the trend of pulling moisture into the northwestern United States beginning late this week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

Thursday into Thursday night will be the wettest period across western Washington and Oregon as the heaviest rain will focus on northern California by Friday into Friday night.

With this being a mild system, snow levels will be mainly above pass levels into Friday, however the recent snowpack keeping temperatures at or below freezing could lead to areas of sleet or freezing rain near pass levels, including Snoqualmie Pass in Washington.

Icy conditions could also develop across some locations east of the Washington Cascades including Yakima, on Thursday night into Friday morning.

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Heavy snow will thump the Blue Mountains of Oregon and the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and Montana on Friday. Snow totals will exceed a foot in some places.

Wet commutes to and from work will be in store across Interstate 5 from the Canadian border to northern California.

Those still needing to complete shopping for the holidays will want to head to the malls before Thursday to beat out the storm.

While there will be more of a break in between systems late this week into next week, there will be a threat for a spotty shower or higher-elevation snow showers across portions of the region on most days.

The next storm system will dive into the Northwest during the latter part of the weekend.

Another 1 to 2 inches of rain can fall in Seattle with another 3 to 5 inches possible in Portland through the weekend.

Flash flooding could become a concern across the hardest-hit areas as the soil remains filled with all the rain that has fallen so far this month.

Rain will slowly track southward into central California, including San Francisco and Sacramento by Saturday.

Rain has been a welcome sight for much of the Northwest since the beginning of October.

"Seattle and Portland have seen 160 percent and 164 percent of their normal precipitation since Oct. 1," Duffey said.

Dec. 14 was the first day this month Portland failed to receive at least 0.25 of an inch of rain.

With half of the month left to go, some cities could challenge records for the wettest December on record.

"The wettest December on record since 1940 at the Portland International Airport is 13.35 inches set in 1996," AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Doll said. "The 10.22 inches so far this month [through Dec. 14] already puts it in third place and it could become the wettest on record by the end of this weekend."

The second wettest December on record in Portland was 11.12 inches set in 1968.

The positive with this precipitation has been the improvement in the drought across the area.

"The drought situation has greatly improved by the stormy pattern," Duffey said. "Almost the entire state of Washington was in either a severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in early September. Currently, the amount of the state in at least a severe drought is down to 48.2 percent."