Midweek storm to bring first significant snowfall of season to western US

Following a damp weekend and early week in the northwestern U.S., the region will receive its first significant snowfall of the season beginning on Wednesday.

The precipitation will not fall as snow everywhere, however.

Rain can be expected throughout much of Washington, Oregon and California on Wednesday. Scattered showers may make an appearance as far south as Los Angeles.

What sets this storm apart from those earlier in the week will be the layer of chilly air that will accompany the precipitation farther inland.

"The push of much-colder air will change rain to snow across the Cascades and Sierra Nevada down to pass levels by Wednesday with accumulations likely," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

Motorists should drive cautiously in snowy conditions, particularly in areas of heavy snow where visibility may be limited at pass levels.

On Wednesday, snow and sleet will fall along with the rain over Idaho, northern Nevada and western Montana. These areas will be cold enough to have a complete transition to snow for Thursday.

"This could end up producing the first significant widespread snow of the season for parts of the interior West," Rathbun said.

Snow is expected to accumulate throughout Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and parts of Utah on Thursday as well.

"Accumulating snow will also fall across the Wasatch Range as well as the Bitterroots, Clearwater, Tetons and other mountains that make up the northern and central Rockies," Rathbun said.

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As the system continues eastward, snowfall may even impact the western Dakotas on Thursday. This will depend on how quickly the storm passes over the Rocky Mountains.

Since heavy accumulation is not likely with this system outside of the higher elevations, the most widespread threat to motorists east of the Rockies may be the wind.

The combination of snow and gusty winds can result in poor visibility and travel delays. High-profile vehicles should exercise caution, even where there is little to no snow accumulation.

Chilly air can be expected to filter in behind the precipitation.

In Reno, Nevada, highs will drop from 68 to 51 F from Tuesday to Wednesday. High temperatures in Salt Lake City are anticipated to fall by more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit between Wednesday and Thursday.

By Saturday, temperatures will rebound to near average.

A couple days of calmer weather will follow this system before another storm approaches from the Pacific over the weekend.

Story written by AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.