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PNW Week-Long Atmospheric River: Feb 23-March 1


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[Last Updated 12:30pm PT Feb 21]
[Original Issuance 4:00am PT Feb 21

There are no changes in the afternoon update. The midday computer guidance was very consistent in the timing, spatial extent, long duration, projected snow/rain totals, and strong winds of this high impact event.

Another extended period of high impact precipitation totals is expected in the Pacific Northwest starting this weekend and continuing thru all of next week. As a result, we recommend preparatory action for major transportation and business disruptions in advance of this extended heavy snow/rain event.

In the details, the upcoming heavy precipitation, snow in higher elevations and rains in lower elevations, will be the result of a series of storms that will be moving from the Pacific into the PNW. This atmospheric river, which will originate in the central portion of the tropical Pacific, will produce copious amounts of rainfall in the lower elevations and extremely heavy snow in the higher elevations. Hence, this atmospheric river will be directed at the PNW at least for a week. The result will be widespread rainfall totals of 3-7 inches in western Oregon and northwest California with some locales receiving up to 12 inches during this 7-day period. In the mountains, snowfall totals during this period will be on the order of 3-7 feet with some areas having accumulations of 10 feet.

The copious amounts of precipitation will cause a wide variety of issues across this WTA zone. Moderate to severe flooding will occur in rivers across this area with road and rail disruptions likely; some damage to infrastructure (road/rail washouts) is a distinct possibility. In higher elevations, the incredible snow totals will cause travel disruptions including closures of parts of interstates/highways. Extremely strong winds coming off the Pacific is yet another component of this storm. Power outages, downed trees, and isolated building damage is in the category of being likely during this week-long exceptionally stormy period.

Impacted Major Highways within the risk zone:
Major interstates within the risk zone that will experience moderate to major impacts include: I-5, I-80, I-90, I-15, and I-84. Impacts will include a variety of issues ranging from reduced speeds to major slow-downs, to road closures for numerous days. Any infrastructure issues due to flooding could result in road closures for weeks.

Business Operations, Loading/Unloading Freight, and Intermodal Ramp Operations, Air Travel:
Loading/unloading of freight and intermodal ramp operations are likely to be significantly disrupted/delayed for numerous days within the impacted areas. Any infrastructure issues due to flooding could result in rail line closures for weeks.

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