Hello winter: First major storm of the season hammers western US with heavy snow, howling winds
- Winter storm warnings were in place for parts of Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
- Temperatures will be far below average across much of the West, where some potentially record lows are possible.
- By Wednesday, the heavy snow and high winds will likely spread further north into the western Dakotas and eastern Montana.
A potent winter storm – the first of the season – pounded the western U.S. on Tuesday, delivering a mix of heavy snow and ferocious winds to much of the region and creating hazardous travel conditions.
Winter storm warnings were in place for parts of Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, where snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet were possible.
The heavy snow will be accompanied by strong and gusty northwesterly winds at the height of the storm, the National Weather Service said. That probably will result in blowing and drifting snow as the storm intensifies, possibly leading to blizzard conditions in some areas.
Temperatures also will be far below average across much of the West, and record lows were possible, AccuWeather said.
Blustery winds surged through California on Tuesday after downing trees, fanning wildfires and shutting off power to thousands of customers in northern and central regions on Monday.
Red flag warnings of dangerous fire conditions continued in mountains, valleys, canyons and deserts because of the dry, windy weather. Winds of 25 mph with gusts up to 70 mph were expected into early Tuesday evening.
Also on Tuesday in the central U.S., on the warm side of the western storm, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were possible across portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas, the Storm Prediction Center said.
"The greatest risk of tornadoes appears to be centered west of Oklahoma City," AccuWeather forecasting operations director Dan DePodwin said.
By Wednesday, the heavy snow and high winds were expected to spread farther north into the western Dakotas and eastern Montana.
Meanwhile, as the West deals with snow and cold temperatures, most of the eastern half of the nation will see mild, near-summerlike weather for at least the next several days, the weather service said.
Contributing: The Associated Press