Storms Could Bring Heavy Rain, Snow to Dry West

Most of the Lower 48 expects a warm holiday weekend
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2021 5:55 PM CST
Storms Could Bring Heavy Rain, Snow to Dry West
Light traffic makes its way in snowy conditions along Interstate 80 at Castle Peak, Calif., on Wednesday.   (Caltrans via AP)

Long-awaited moisture, which the West sorely needs, might be finally arriving at a difficult time. Forecasters expect winter storms to arrive in two waves, CNN reports: one delivering snow only to high elevations by Thursday, and a larger, colder one dropping snow at lower elevations. Accumulation in the Sierra Nevadas could reach 10 feet, said the National Weather Service in Sacramento, predicts most areas will get 5 to 8 feet. The Reno office's warning Wednesday was blunt: "Travel across the Sierra will be difficult to impossible at times through the holiday weekend." A white Christmas is possible in the Northwest.

Heavy rain also is possible in the West, which means there could be flooding and mudslides. Nothing else is the forecast is so dramatic. Travel could be affected by wintry weather in New England and the Great Lakes, but the rest of the Lower 48 expect a warm holiday weekend. "On Christmas Day, over 30 record highs could be set from Texas into the Southeast," said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. Cities across the South expect high temperatures in the 70s and 80s on Saturday, 20 degrees above average.

More than 97% of West remains in a drought, but ski resorts in Southern California expect to benefit from several inches of snow over the weekend, per KCAL. Colorado ski resorts also haven't had much snow to work with, but that should change with a steady accumulation over the week or so, per the Denver Post. "The new snow should help most mountains open most of their terrain by around New Year's," OpenSnow predicts. The models show a snowy January, as well. (More snowfall stories.)

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