Published On: Mon, Feb 19th, 2018

Snow, Record Cold To Plunge Southward Through Western US

The same storm that caused officials to close a section of Interstate 90 in Washington on Saturday will continue to spread snow and unusually cold air across the western United States early this week.

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“After a very warm start to February, this storm will signal a pattern change by dragging much colder air into the region,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido said.

“Plowable snow will accompany the colder air, bringing slippery travel and snow-covered roads to a good portion of the interior West.”

Motorists should prepare for slow and treacherous conditions on stretches of interstates 15, 25, 70 and 80 across the Rockies.

The snow will be a delight for the ski resorts, Vido added.

Travel may become especially difficult in the corridor from Salt Lake City to Casper, Wyoming.

The snow will fizzle before spreading much farther to the south of Denver along I-25, meaning another missed opportunity for much-needed wet weather in the drought-stricken areas of the southern High Plains.

Similarly, Southern California will not receive substantial rainfall from this storm.

As the storm plunges southward, winds strong enough to cause power outages, tree damage and hazards for high-profile vehicles will sweep from the Great Basin on Sunday to the Desert Southwest on Monday.

Blowing dust can also get whipped up across the deserts, dramatically reducing visibility for motorists.

While not all of the West will have to deal with snow or strong winds from this storm, the cold plunging southward will be more far-reaching.

Highs will be held 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below normal in most communities Monday and Tuesday.

Highs in the 70s and even lower 80s that have dominated Los Angeles frequently this month will be replaced with temperatures being held to the upper 50s. A high near 70 F is more common this time of year.

Record lows will be challenged all along the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland and Medford, Oregon, to Sacramento and Bakersfield, California. San Francisco will join this list.

A hard freeze is expected to grip California’s Central Valley Monday night with similar conditions possible on Tuesday night.

“Citrus growers will want to take the necessary precautions to protect their crops,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

Pipes that are above ground or in unheated or poorly insulated areas of homes and businesses are at greatest risk to freeze and burst.

While temperatures should stop short of reaching the 30s in downtown Los Angeles and San Diego, a frost or freeze may have residents in the surrounding valleys shivering.

Such conditions may even reach the coast of Central California.

Residents will want to turn up the heat and cover or bring in any outdoor plants.

“This shot of cold will have some staying power with below-normal temperatures expected to persist into at least next weekend,” Vido said.

Residents will notice an increase in heating costs to combat the cold as temperatures will continue to drop down to near or below freezing in the Central Valley and the valleys in Southern California.

Some communities, including Seattle and Sacramento, may continue to challenge nighttime lows daily through the week.