A big change in the weather will soon unfold across the Pacific Northwest thanks to the presence of an approaching storm system in the Pacific.
Wednesday featured above-normal warmth across the Pacific Northwest. For example, Portland, Oregon, recorded a high temperature of 82 degrees; normally, the city only reaches 67 degrees on May 5. Farther south, Medford, Oregon, soared to 90 degrees, well above the typical value of 71 degrees. However, even where temperatures were close to normal farther inland, a big change is on the horizon.
For most locations in the region, Thursday started off as another tranquil day. However, conditions began to change in the afternoon as rain moved into the coast. The cold front and storm creating this wet weather continued to sweep through the Northwest Thursday night and will progress into the northern Rockies on Friday.
Ahead of the front, thunderstorms could break out in central Montana, northwestern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho and northwestern Nevada Friday. Some of those storms may contain hail and gusty winds, but widespread severe weather is not expected.
Much colder air will advance eastward in the wake of the front. After temperatures in Boise, Idaho, soared to 90 degrees on Thursday, the mercury will struggle to reach the middle 60s Friday. Great Falls, Montana, had a high of 72 degrees on Thursday, but it will struggle to reach the lower 60s on Friday.
"While the temperature drop from Thursday to Friday will be dramatic, lows are unlikely to threaten any records," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert.
In the higher elevations of Washington and Idaho, the air may be cold enough that rain showers could even mix with snow. It is not out of the question that the Cascades of Washington and the mountains of Idaho and western parts of Montana and Wyoming receive a light accumulation of snow Friday night.
"With the influx of colder air on Thursday night, snow levels will also plummet, allowing flakes to fly as low as 2,500 feet," Gilbert said.
Gilbert explained that any significant snow accumulation is unlikely because of the warmth preceding the storm. That said, it is not out of the question that the Cascades of Washington and the mountains of Idaho and western parts of Montana and Wyoming receive a light accumulation of snow Friday night.
"Any wet roads could become slick, especially for the higher elevations," cautioned Gilbert.
The below-normal temperatures, precipitation and wind are expected to stick around through the weekend. The coastal Northwest should begin to experience a warming and drying trend by Monday.
However, over the interior, rain showers and higher-elevation snow showers will still be in the forecast. Much of the northern and central Rockies are expected to have rain and snow to deal with into Tuesday. Additional snow accumulations are also possible.
By midweek, precipitation should come to an end across the entire area, and temperatures will trend upward.
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