Rain and snow in the West to expand into parched Southwest and persist into late January

The relentless storm train that has been impacting the West Coast will expand and affect millions more in the Southwest into late January, say AccuWeather meteorologists. Rain and snow are headed to a portion of the country that has not had much as of late.

For the last several weeks, near-constant rain and wintry weather have impacted the West, especially the Pacific Northwest, leading to treacherous travel and power outages for tens of thousands. That will continue to be the case over at least the next week, as at least three more storms are expected to move onshore, with potentially more to follow to wrap up the month.

"The first storm that will impact the West will take place this weekend," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis. "It will focus the wet weather on California and Oregon, bringing rain as well as high-elevation snow."

It will be more of the same for Portland, Oregon, as rain will pick up again over the weekend after a brief break in the wet weather to end the workweek. Breaks have been rare, as 18 of the first 20 days in January have featured at least a trace of precipitation, and the total for the month is already well over 5 inches.

Fortunately, the prospects of additional icing in Portland will be limited with the next storm.

"While some spotty occasions of ice are possible, the significant ice accumulation that occurred in Portland this past week is not expected," added Travis.

The San Francisco Bay Area will also get in on the rain through much of the weekend as waves of moisture move ashore, resulting in a couple of inches of rain. This will expand inland and south through California and into the Southwest into Monday and Tuesday.

In the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges, there will be snow, proving a boon for the ski resorts and a headache for travelers. "Donner Pass can expect at least a foot of snow with the rounds of wet weather into next week," Travis said.

Meanwhile, wet weather will finally return to Southern California, where raindrops have been at a premium since the year began.

"The more southerly storm track associated with the wet weather is forecast to bring rounds of rain through the middle of next week to locations that have been dry for most of January," pointed out Travis. "This includes Los Angeles and San Diego."

With the storminess bringing plentiful moisture, over an inch of rain can fall, mainly in two waves from Saturday night through Monday. While it will not be enough to cause the widespread flooding or mudslides seen in some other storms during El Niño years, it can make for slow and slippery travel.

The two waves of moisture will make it well inland across the Southwest, bringing some much-needed rain and snow to places like Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, as well as other portions of the Four Corners and Great Basin regions. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released earlier this week, much of this area is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions.


Las Vegas has had only one day with at least a tenth of an inch of rain since autumn began on Sep. 23, with rainfall at only 21 percent of normal since then. Into early next week, there can be one such day, as waves of rain move over the Strip around Monday and Monday night, bringing localized downpours.

Around Phoenix, over an inch of rain can fall between Sunday and Tuesday, about as much rain as has fallen since the beginning of last fall.

Meanwhile, the higher elevations in the Four Corners are looking at some snow into next week. Flagstaff has measured only 24.4 inches of snow this season, well below the historical average of 41 inches through Jan. 18.

By late in the new week, the wet weather will have staying power in some areas while others will dry out.

"More stormy weather is possible for the final days of January," said Travis. "However, those rounds of rain and snow may return to just the Pacific Northwest rather than California and the Southwest."

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