An intense winter storm system is moving across the U.S., with both coasts experiencing wintery weather conditions on Sunday, and will continue to impact most of the nation throughout the week with the potential to disrupt travel.
Today, parts of Southern California—including Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties—are seeing more than seven inches of rain, with more than four inches dumped on areas of Los Angeles County and localized rainfall of up to an inch per hour in some of the Golden State’s southwestern regions.
Given California’s ongoing (or, rather, chronic) drought conditions and the many areas scarred by wildfires, flash flooding and debris flow are worrisome possibilities.
Meanwhile, several feet of snow are expected to fall in the mountains, from the West to the Midwest. “Heavy mountain snow and coastal rain to the West will begin to shift into the Plains Monday,” according to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) short-range forecast.
As heavy snowfall slammed into California’s mountains on Sunday, a stretch of Highway 89 in the Lake Tahoe area was closed down, with sections of I-80 and other roads closed down periodically. Parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains could be blanketed with five feet of snow and suffer from whiteout conditions Sunday through Monday, said the NWS.
Then, from Monday through Wednesday, the storm is expected to continue its trajectory eastward, sweeping across a wide geographic belt ranging from Colorado to Minnesota, while “developing into a possible blizzard”, complete with high winds, sleet and driving snow.
“Heavy snow will bring major impacts to many areas across the country,” the NWS said, also warning, “Travel could become impossible.”
From late Tuesday into Wednesday, a powerful snowstorm is forecast to impact much of the nation’s interior, with local snowfall rates at several inches hourly and wind gusts reaching up to 60 mph in some areas.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Thomas Geiger told USA Today, ” A major snowstorm is in the cards from Colorado to Minnesota into midweek.” The NWS’s Boulder office tweeted “Blizzard conditions possible (for) portions of northeast Colorado late Monday night – Tuesday night. Significant travel impacts, whiteouts, road closures & harsh livestock conditions will be possible.”
In parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, warm air ahead of the storm could result in not only snowfall, but an icy mixture that poses an even greater danger, Geiger warned. “Across much of central and southern Minnesota, a heavy glaze of ice may be more impactful than the snow,” he said, explaining that even one-tenth of an inch of ice can be more hazardous than several inches of snow.
Looking southward, states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are likely to suffer some severe thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday, which could result in such hazards as hail, damaging winds and even tornadoes.
The massive storm system could potentially last all week, said AccuWeather Meteorologist Lauren Hyde, noting that it’s still unclear what its impact on the nation’s Northeast may be at the end of the week. But, essentially, forecasts suggest that heavy snow and ice are also likely on their way toward the East Coast.
For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.