SEATTLE - A strong storm and cold front bombards the Pacific Northwest Monday with a promise to deliver heavy rainfall and gusty winds to communities from Seattle to Medford, Oregon. The front is tapping tropical moisture.
" A big area of low pressure moving to British Columbia. That drags the cold front across the Northwest," explained meteorologist Britta Merwin. "And this is truly just the beginning of some very active weather moving through. First shot comes through. Snow levels are super high. So we're talking about only the highest peaks seeing snow."
Cold air filtering behind the front will set the area up for potential thunderstorms in the late afternoon through evening.
"And with the wind component, you got to be smart with travel here. This is really probably one of those areas where traveling is not going to be great as we work our way through Tuesday, a little bit of a break day, maybe a couple of showers.
The NWS issued Gale Warnings for the coast and Merwin warned of gusts up to 45 mph. Interior valleys could see gusts to 30 mph, according to the NWS.
The storm will wring impressive amounts of rain from the moisture rich tropical air.
"And because we have an upper level low that's slamming into British Columbia. The positioning is just perfect that we might have rumbles of thunder," said Merwin. "You don't really see a lot of thunderstorms in the northwest, but when you see them, it's this type of a setup."
Snow levels are relatively high with the infusion of the warm, tropical moisture.
"So don't be caught off guard. Rain amounts here, of course, the Olympic Peninsula, that's the slam dunk there. You're working all this moisture up some very high mountain tops. So the water literally gets wrung out over the peninsula and it drops a lot," Merwin continued. "We're talking about 2 to 3 inches, maybe 3 to 4 in the higher elevations."
The rain could fall as far south as Northern California but remain light for communities around Medford, Oregon southward into the Golden State.
The expected rainfall is welcome news for the region that has been dealing with drought conditions and wildfires, especially in southwest Canada.
A drier weather regime takes control late Tuesday into the weekend.