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Potent storms from the Pacific to bombard British Columbia, northwestern US

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
October 15, 2017, 6:35:32 PM EDT

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Potent storms will begin to bombard British Columbia and the northwestern United States during the second half of October.

The northern Pacific storm season is starting a little early this year. Typically, storms and their impact on the Northwest ramp up during November, rather than the middle of October.

The storms that brought some rain and mountain snow to the region this past week will likely pale in comparison to what lies ahead.

Northwest Oct 15

"A plume of moisture is setting up across the northern Pacific Ocean," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

"Storms are lining up like boxcars of moisture on a freight train," he said.

The bulk of the storms will focus from southern British Columbia to Washington. However, the storm track will fluctuate somewhat from north to south from storm to storm.

"Storms also got off to an early start in the Northwest last year," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

"However, unlike last year, where the storm track shifted southward and focused on California, we expect the storm train to linger in the northwestern U.S. and British Columbia much of this winter," Pastelok said.

Northwest Oct 15

The new week will start on a comfortable note across the Northwest U.S., but heavy rain and high-elevation snow will barrel into southern British Columbia.

The rain and snow will drop into Washington on Tuesday. The heaviest rain will fall west of the Cascade Mountains, but strong winds will also howl east of the mountains and into Montana.

Some heavy rain, mountain snow and gusty winds will reach as far south as Oregon and California as the pattern progresses this week. This includes the wildfire-ravaged areas near San Francisco, Sacramento and Santa Rosa, California, later in the week.

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Locally heavy rain, snow and wind are likely to extend well inland to the southern Canada Rockies and the northern Rockies of the U.S. during the second half of October.

Portions of British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and the western part of the Dakotas are experiencing conditions ranging from abnormally dry soil to exceptional drought.

Heavy mountain snow may help to get the ski season off to a fast start.

North Pacific Storm Parade 10.15 AM

As with any potent storms or series of storms, too much rain may fall too fast and trigger flash flooding problems. At the very least, highway travel and airline delays will mount.

Winds from some of the storms may be strong enough to down trees and cause power outages.

As is often the case, temperatures and especially snow levels will vary with and within each storm. Snow is likely to dip down to the major passes during some of the storms.

"The varying snow levels and gusty winds will pose a great risk to hikers in the region," Anderson said.

"The risk of avalanches will increase."

Areas along the coast will take a battering from heavy seas and above-normal tides.

The details and timing of each storm will be revealed as the storms approach the West Coast.

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