Serious winter weather – that means accumulating snow – could arrive over the Inland Northwest through much of next week, forecasters said on Wednesday.
Enough cold air has descended on the Inland Northwest to ensure that any incoming Pacific storm systems will be dropping snow instead of rain.
Forecasters said they expect the conditions to favor a series of snowy periods starting on Sunday and continuing through much of next week.
The largest accumulations will likely be in the mountains, said Ron Miller, forecaster at the National Weather Service in Spokane.
Unlike the rain and wind storms during the week before New Year’s Day, next week’s storms are going to collide with cold enough air to ensure the wintry outlook.
“It’s definitely going to be snow instead of rain,” Miller said.
For now, forecasters expect snow chances in the 20 percent range on Saturday night increasing to 30 percent Sunday, 40 percent on Monday and 50 percent on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Miller said the strongest storms may plunge southward into Oregon and California, where precipitation and snowfall have been well below normal this season.
If they do, the Inland Northwest would see light to moderate accumulations.
He said the Sierra Mountains have almost no snow. Oregon mountain snowpack is only about 40 percent of normal compared with a snowpack of 75 percent or more of normal in the Inland Northwest.
The expected trajectory to the south of Washington will help fill those deficits.
Adequate snowpack is critical for summer river flows and recreation, fishing and irrigation.
Highs Thursday and Friday will be near 30 with lows near 20 under mostly sunny skies and calm conditions. Temperatures warm a few degrees on Saturday before the first of the storms arrive.