Before arctic air hits the Plains and East later this month, cold air will quickly progress through the West with a couple of storms tagging along.
The pattern brought a touch of snow around Seattle and Portland and a snowstorm to Salt Lake City.
Steering currents, known as the jet stream will dip southward in the West this week. The pattern will allow cold air to drive quickly through much of the region.
The cold storms will result in travel problems along major routes including I-5, I-15, I-40, I-70, I-80 and I-90.
As that storm pivots inland during the middle of the week it will open the door for cold air to spill southward along the West Coast.
Snow will blanket lower elevation areas from Boise and Pocatello, Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Late in the week, the same storm and its snow will reach areas from the Arizona mountains to the central Rockies and part of the Plains.
A second smaller, weaker and colder storm is forecast to track along the southern Alaska coast, then turn southward toward the coastal Northwest.
The second storm could be cold enough to bring snow down close to sea level around Seattle and Portland Saturday into Saturday night.
According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, "The question is will that storm is the amount of moisture available to it."
The first storm will wipe away most of the Pacific Ocean moisture supply. However, the system Saturday into Saturday night represents the best chance of snow around sea level in parts of western Washington and Oregon so far this winter. Odds favor most of the precipitation with that storm staying offshore.
A push of cold air that follows both storms could bring the lowest temperatures of the season so far to portions of the Great Basin and West Coast states for a several-day stretch.
It is possible the string of cold nights this weekend into the first part of next week rivals that of the past several decades in part of the Southwest.
According to the National Weather Service, the last time Phoenix, Ariz. had four consecutive dates of 32 degrees or lower was during the late December of 1988.
A three-day stretch of 32-degree or lower readings occurred spanning Dec. 11, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011 with lows of 32, 30 and 32 degrees respectively.
It does appear that temperatures will trend upward during the second half of next week in the West while the arctic air takes root over the northern Plains and Upper Midwest, before fighting its way into the Northeast late next week.
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