After an unusually dry February in the Pacific Northwest, March will begin on a soggy note in many places. A potent disturbance pushing into the region this weekend will spread rain and some snow from Washington and Oregon to Montana and Wyoming.
Although dry weather will prevail for the first half of Saturday, a stream of moisture will allow for rain by the end of the day from Portland to Seattle.
While many locales will have a wet weekend, the heaviest rain is expected to be confined to Vancouver Island. Wet weather has plagued the region the past couple of days and at least 3 inches of rain can fall through the weekend in parts of the island.
Farther south, up to an inch of rain can wet the Washington coast. Wind gusts to 40 mph will also whip coastal sections of the region through the weekend.
A mild flow of air ahead of the storm will allow for a brief taste of spring and bump snow levels to over 7,500 feet through Saturday. By Sunday, snow levels are expected to fall to 3,500 feet in Washington and Oregon with higher elevations to the east.
The locations that have the greatest likelihood of picking up several inches of snow are those in the Tetons, Bitterroots, and northern Rockies. Lower elevations, such as the valleys of western Montana, should remain mainly rain.
At the same time, wet and mild conditions will invade the Northwest. A warm, offshore breeze will warm temperatures above 80 in Southern California, near record levels.
Looking down the road, this storm has the potential to become a significant winter storm from the Plains to the East Coast. The exact track still has to be finessed and that will determine snow accumulations.
As the storm approaches and eventually moves into the U.S., better atmospheric data will be gathered and that will help fine-tune the forecast.
AccuWeather.com will have the latest updates through the weekend on this developing storm.
Thumbnail graphic illustration by Photos.com
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