Stormy Pattern Returns to the West

By Matt Alto, Meteorologist
January 24, 2013; 8:32 AM ET
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After a prolonged period of dry and sunny weather across most of the West, a stormy weather pattern will make a return.

A persistent ridge of high pressure centered over the Great Basin was responsible for a stretch of dry weather lasting nearly a week and a half across the West. In fact, this center of high pressure was the strongest so far this winter.

Although most of the West enjoyed copious amounts and sunshine and dry weather, areas of low clouds, fog and stagnant air affected many of the interior valleys of the Northwest.

The pleasant weather came to an end across much of the West Wednesday as a pair of storm system impacted the West Coast.

Photo courtesy of Photos.com.

The first was a storm system that passed through the Northwest Wednesday, putting an end to the large stretch of dry weather across the Northwest. This system also put an end to the low clouds and stagnant air found throughout the lower valleys. This storm will continue to track across the northern Rockies Thursday.

The rain that system which fell at Sea-Tac International Airport Wednesday was the first measurable rain in 12 days, the second-longest January dry streak for the airport.

Meanwhile, the second storm system is an upper-air disturbance off the coast of California which will impact parts of the Golden State through at least the early part of the coming weekend.

The combination of these two systems are helping to weaken the strong ridge of high pressure and lead the way to a stormier pattern throughout the West.

Northwest

Dry weather will return throughout much of the Northwest Thursday before another storm system arrives Thursday night.

This storm system will slowly move across the region through at least Saturday, bringing with it chilly air along with periods of rain and mountain snow. Light to moderate amounts of precipitation are expected.

Heading into the second half of the weekend and into early next week, a large dip in the jet stream across the West and a series of weak upper-air disturbances moving southward out of the Gulf of Alaska will bring more showers and lowering snow levels.

California & Southwest

A very moist area of low pressure spinning off the coast of Southern California will bring unsettled weather to parts of California and the Southwest through this coming weekend.

The threat for periods of rain will remain in the forecast through at least early Saturday for Southern California. There will be enough of a southerly flow and moisture for some enhanced areas of rain in the foothills and mountains. Snow levels will remain above 6,000 feet through the weekend.

The area of low pressure will move northeastward Friday and Saturday, affecting parts of the Southwest. The storm system will bring widely separated showers and high elevation snow above 8,000 feet.

In addition to the wet weather, much cooler air will move into the region. Temperatures will go from the 70s and 80s throughout the region Thursday and Friday to the 50s and 60s by Saturday.

A second, colder storm system is expected early next week as a stronger trough of low pressure digs across the West.

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