Winter Is Coming for the Western US: What You Need to Know

Though autumn has just begun, winter is coming for parts of the western United States. 

The first major snowstorm of the season is forecast to drop feet of snow in higher elevations, along with powerful winds, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Winter Storm Warnings, Watches, and Advisories. 

This article breaks down the key impacts of the storm and how to prepare. 

Winter Weather Synopsis

Looking at the timeline issued by the National Weather Service, the heaviest snow will likely fall Monday night into Tuesday for regions across Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. 

On Monday night, precipitation rates east of the continental divide will pick up. The rain will turn into snow during the evening hours. 

The mountains will get the most snowfall, specifically Bighorn and Casper Mountain. Valley and basin locations will also see some snow accumulations, but warmer daytime temperatures will melt it. 

Tuesday night and Wednesday bring a hard freeze, with morning lows in the upper teens and low 20s (Fahrenheit). Snow will linger on Wednesday with temperatures remaining in the 30s. 

Winter Weather Advisories, Watches, and Warnings 

Travel will most dangerous during the nighttime hours because of cooler temperatures. Wind gusts moving 25 to 45 mph combined with light snow will create hazardous travel across I-80. 

With colder temperatures along with precipitation mix, the NWS has issued Winter Storm Advisories, Watches, and Warnings. 

A Winter Storm Warning means heavy snow of at least six inches in 12 hours, or eight inches in 24 hours is forecasted. A Winter Storm Advisory calls for three to five inches of snow in 12 hours mixed with freezing rain. A Winter Storm Watch means conditions are favorable for a winter storm, potentially threatening life and property. 

Southern Montana and central Wyoming are under a Winter Storm Warning until noon MDT on Wednesday. These areas can expect three to eight inches of snow. Rads, bridges, and overpasses will be very slick. The weight of snow on trees may cause downed limbs and power lines. Drivers should exercise extra caution when on the road. 

Southern Idaho and central Montana are under a Winter Weather Advisory starting Tuesday at 12 a.m. until 6 p.m. Snow accumulations will range from three to five inches. 

Parts of Utah, south of Wasatch Mountains, Western Uinta Mountains, Wasatch Plateau, Central Mountains, and Southern Mountains are under a Winter Storm Watch. The NWS warns against winter driving conditions along all mountain routes. 

Though it’s technically still autumn, it’s not too early to prepare for winter weather. Read more on how local governments can gear up for the coming winter




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