A major storm just prior to Christmas will cause travel disruptions due to drenching rain and heavy snow from California and Oregon to Arizona, Utah and Idaho.
The storm will push southward over California as well as eastward over the interior West into Christmas Eve.
Enough rain can fall on coastal and low-elevation areas of California, southern Nevada and Arizona to bring the risk of isolated flash flooding and mudslides. The risk of flooding will be greatest in urban areas, while the potential for mudslides will be greatest in recent burn areas.
Major California cities that will get a thorough soaking include San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. Downpours will also extend to Las Vegas and Phoenix. Airline delays are likely as the heaviest rain moves through with a low cloud ceiling and gusty winds.
As colder air circulates in with gusty winds, snow levels will lower in the mountains. Motorists should anticipate poor visibility and slippery conditions over Siskiyou Summit, Donner Pass, Cajon Pass, Tejon Pass and the high ground in Arizona.
Enough snow to shovel and plow will fall on cities such as Flagstaff, Arizona; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and Elko, Nevada.
Skiers may be leaping for joy with fresh natural power on the way for many mountain resorts, just in time for the holidays.
Conditions will improve from west to east across the region from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day as the storm strengthens and takes aim at the Great Plains with blizzard conditions in the north and severe thunderstorms in the south.
Some last-minute shoppers and travelers may still have to contend with chilly showers in California on Saturday. Gusty winds will cause blowing and drifting snow on Sunday over parts of the Intermountain West.
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