Cold, Snow Reach From the Cascades to Salt Lake City
December 21, 2013; 7:00 AM
After several days of unseasonable warmth, bitter cold and rounds of snow will continue to spread across the Western and Central states into this weekend.
Right on cue, snow, ice and cold will arrive in conjunction with the winter solstice, which is Saturday.
Snowfall amounts of 1-3 inches are expected in low elevations from central Washington to Utah heading into the first part of the weekend. However, up to 12 inches will fall in the mountains.
This will likely cause slick roads and travel delays, especially on Interstates 15, 25, 80 and 90.
At Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday alone, the day's total delays and cancellations topped 450, according to FlightStats.
By Friday evening, total delays and cancellations hit approximately 320 at Salt Lake City International Airport and 390 at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, FlightStats reported.
Reduced visibility and de-icing operations may cause a new round of flight delays at Salt Lake City Saturday.
Early on Friday, storm brought snow down to sea level around Seattle and heavy snow to the passes in the Washington Cascades.
According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mark Mancuso, "This was the first accumulating snow in the Seattle metro area in two years."
Snow and rain is forecast to fall over the passes in the Cascades Friday night with slushy travel.
Travel along I-90 will be affected the most from Snoqualmie Pass to Spokane, Wash., and Lookout Pass along the Idaho/Montana border, where locally 6-12 inches of snow can fall.
Many locations across the northern and central Plains ran at least 30 degrees colder Thursday compared to Wednesday.
After reaching 60 degrees Wednesday, the high in Rapid City, S.D., Thursday was more than 30 degrees colder with temperatures failing to climb out of the 20s.
Up to 7 inches of snow fell on portions of South Dakota Thursday and Thursday night.
"Temperatures have taken a roller coaster ride in the West this month," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Daniel Pydynowski.
"This recent warm spell followed the frigid start to December in the Plains and Rockies, and temperatures are heading downward once again," Pydynowski added.
Big temperature changes are also expected across Southern California and the Southwest, where record highs were toppled earlier in the week.
After an early-week stretch of days with highs in the 80s in Los Angeles, temperatures did not even reach 60 degrees Thursday. Sunshine will help temperatures reach the lower 60s again Friday and Saturday.
A stronger storm will bring a mix of snow and ice and more travel problems this weekend from the southern Plains to the Midwest.
The timing of this storm will wreak havoc for folks planning to leave home over the weekend for the Christmas holiday, as there will be travel delays on the roads and at the airports.
There is the potential for several inches of snow in Wichita, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; Moline, Ill.; and Milwaukee while Chicago and Detroit will get a mix of snow and ice.
Frigid air will persist this weekend in the northern Plains as the cold air also spreads into the Midwest.
Record-shattering warmth is likely ahead of this storm system from the Southeast to the mid-Atlantic this weekend, along with the threat for flooding rain and intense thunderstorms.
Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed content to this story.