Cold and White Pre-Christmas in the WestSlick roads and travel delays are possible from Nevado to Minnesota
A Wyoming Department of Transportation plow clears snow from the northbound lane of Highway 85 near Jay Em, Wyo., on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
After several days of unseasonable warmth, bitter cold and rounds of snow will spread across the Western and Central states late this week into this weekend.
Right on cue, snow, ice and cold will arrive in conjunction with the winter solstice, which is this Saturday.
Snowfall amounts of 1-3 inches are expected from Washington to Utah heading into the first part of the weekend with up to 6 inches possible in the mountains.
This will likely cause slick roads and travel delays, especially on Interstates 80, 15, 25 and 90.
Reduced visibility and deicing operations will cause some flight delays at the airports, including Salt Lake City, Utah and Rapid City, S.D.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 350 arriving and departing flights were delayed or canceled at Salt Lake City International Airport due to snow and ice.
A few accidents during the afternoon hours also halted travel along I-80 and I-215 near the Millcreek and West Valley City areas.
By Thursday evening, even more flights were delayed or canceled at Salt Lake City International Airport, making the day's total delays and cancellations top 450, according to FlightStats.
Dense fog around Vernal, Utah, also delayed travel Thursday night for motorists.
According to expert senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "The storm will spread snow and travel delays down to sea level around Seattle and bring locally heavy snow to the passes in the Washington Cascades."
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 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 failing to climb out of the 20s.
"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 one 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, Wis., while Chicago and Detroit, Mich., will get a mix of snow and ice.
Frigid air will persist this weekend in the northern Plains with the cold air also spreading 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.
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