Chilly, unsettled weather to persist in western US into early week

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 17, 2019, 10:25:28 PM EST

Below-normal temperatures will accompany bouts of rain and snow across the western United States this week.

“A stormy pattern with chilly air will continue for the Pacific states and into the Southwest through the middle of the week and beyond,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.

While California residents can breathe a sigh of relief that no storms will bring a repeat of last week’s wind, rain and snow, the chilly, unsettled weather can put a damper on continued cleanup and power restoration efforts.

SW Sunday Feb 16

A cold system will dive southward along the Pacific Coast into the end the weekend.

This weekend can bring a fresh 1-2 feet of snow on top of the mountains of snow that fell last week in the highest terrain of the Sierra Nevada, including I-80's Donner Summit.

This will add further strain to mountain towns struggling to find places to pile the snow and crews trying to keep roads clear.

ca snow ap

In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 photo provided by Caltrans District 10, a big rig lacking chains slid into a snowbank blocking State Route 88 in Amador County near Tragedy Springs, Calif. Skiers eager to hit the slopes had to sit out a Presidents' Day holiday weekend as heavy snow and rain fell for a fourth straight day Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in California's mountains, where the snow was so deep in some areas plows couldn't go out and cities were running out of places to pile it. (Caltrans via AP)

So much snow fell late this past week that several routes to Lake Tahoe were shut down, forcing skiers to cancel plans, according to the Associated Press.

Those who do venture into the Sierra Nevada into early week will need to use extreme caution as roads are likely to remain treacherous and the avalanche danger will remain high.

avalanche danger 2.16 AM

In Southern California, snow levels will drop to around 1,500-2,000 feet by Sunday night, which can allow accumulating snow in the foothills and some valleys areas, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck.

The low snow levels can create travel difficulties for people driving through the Grapevine, Cajon Pass and along portions of highways 14 and 138, with reduced visibility and snowy, icy roads possible.

Gusty winds will cause any snowfall to blow and drift.

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People in and around Flagstaff, Arizona, will also have to contend with snowy conditions this weekend, with the heaviest snowfall and worst travel conditions expected on Sunday night and into Monday.

Rain showers, with perhaps a few rumbles of thunder, will sweep along the California coast and Central Valley through the weekend as well.

Any thunderstorms that do pop up can produce small hail, in addition to frequent lightning.

Early week Feb 16

Cold air will settle in behind the storm, with record lows possible from Redding to Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Riverside, California, early in the week.

“Temperatures will average 5-15 degrees Fahrenheit below normal through next week across the much of the West,” Boston said.

As the Pacific states dry out early in the week, the cold, along with the threat for snow and slippery travel, will spread into Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Monday into Tuesday.

Cold West Feb 16

The dry break for the West Coast will be brief, however, as a new storm will sweep southward with rain and snow showers during the middle and latter part of the week.

This next storm will return snowfall to the Sierra and Southern California mountains, and could unleash significant snowfall in the Four Corners region.

Las Vegas has the potential to record its second snowfall of the season with this event.

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