Fall storm system bringing heavy snow to Rockies, severe weather to Plains

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A strong storm system crossing the Rocky Mountains brings the first significant mountain snow across the Intermountain West for the remainder of the weekend and could end in severe weather on the northern plains.

The flakes began flying Saturday across the Cascades and northern Rockies, including Montana and Idaho and are spreading through the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and the Rockies in Colorado and Wyoming.

“Central Montana is already seeing the 8 to 12 inches of snow on the ground there,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Amy Freeze. “It really is the northern Rockies here. The Wasatch front is already getting its fix.”

WHEN EARLIEST CAN IT SNOW IN YOUR CITY?

Due to the storm, winter storm watches and warnings were issued as some areas could pick up more than a foot of snow in the mountains.

“We will continue with winter weather alerts,” Freeze said. “In nine states we have winter storm warnings. These include the highest elevations. That’s where the air is coldest.”

In the lower elevations of the Intermountain West, such as Denver, temperatures remain too warm for snow. Areas at lower elevations can expect rain and gusty winds.

AUTUMN FLIP-FLOP: WEST TO GET FIRST SIGNIFICANT RAIN IN MONTHS AS EAST BENEFITS FROM SIGNIFICANT WARMING

Forecast of snowfall in the West.
(FOX Weather)

A major fall storm heads for the northern plains

The storm becomes more unpleasant as it moves away from the Rockies and into the northern plains, bringing a mix of heavy rain, gusty winds and the possibility of some snow. It could even generate some violent thunderstorms on Sunday.

“This storm is getting a bit strong as it moves towards the plains,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Craig Herrera. “The back is where the snow we’ve been talking about is. As these two air masses collide and the warm front moves north, we have a chance to have some of these thunderstorms with gusty winds and hail.”

The threat of bad weather.
(FOX Weather)

The threat of severe thunderstorms extends from Kansas through the central and northern plains to northwest Missouri, western Iowa and southwest Minnesota.

However, the highest risk of severe weather exists in northeastern Kansas, eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota.

“It’s a storm we’ll be talking about for several days,” Herrera said. “When we look at the risk of severe weather, we’re talking about 2.5 million people at Level 2, from Sioux Falls to Omaha.”

There will be wind too. As the storm strengthens, strong winds will develop first on Sunday in the southern plains, where wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph are likely, according to the FOX Forecast Center.

On Monday, the strongest winds will blow over the northern plains. Wind gusts will likely exceed 60 mph in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

Given the extremely dry air currently in place, the atmosphere will struggle to bring humidity levels to a level that would be conducive to widespread severe thunderstorms, FOX Forecast Center meteorologists said.

That being said, at least some storms could produce large hail and damaging wind gusts of over 60 mph from Sunday evening to early Monday morning.

Severe weather or not, up to 3 inches of rain is still expected across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest Sunday evening through Monday.

These areas have been very dry for the past three months ranging from about 4 to 7 inches of below average rainfall, so this rain will be beneficial.

Precipitation forecast for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
(FOX Weather)

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