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    Stormy Week for Northwest; Snow Flakes in Seattle, Portland

    By By Dan DePodwin, meteorologist
    March 01, 2012, 1:41:12 AM EST

    A potent storm system will plow into the Northwest today, beginning a stretch of wintry weather.

    Ample Pacific moisture associated with a strong disturbance will push onshore today along the Oregon and Washington coast, bringing drenching rain to the immediate coastal plain.

    Strong winds will also buffet the coast with gusts in excess of 50-mph tonight into tomorrow.

    Farther inland, the moisture will clash with cold air, producing snow in the mountains. Snow levels are expected to be quite low across the region. In Washington, residents of Seattle could see some snowflakes although accumulation is not expected.

    According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "Snow levels will dip to around 500 feet in Washington and northern Oregon."

    Very heavy snow will spread over the mountains of northern California and southern Oregon beginning tonight.

    Over a foot of snow could blanket the highest elevations of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. Lesser amounts are expected in lower elevations.

    Persistent westerly winds will continue to transport a steady stream of moisture into the region through Thursday with snow continuing in many places.

    Travel through the passes of the Northwest is expected to become treacherous tonight and Wednesday when the bulk of the snow will fall. I-90 could be impacted, as well as I-5 in southern Oregon.

    By Thursday evening, high pressure should begin to take hold of the region, putting an end to the wintry weather.

    While this latest storm system dumps fresh powder on the Northwest, more wintry weather will impact the northern Plains and Northeast.

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