A powerful winter storm that slammed into the West on Sunday hit parts of California with more than 7 inches of rain and promised to pound the trip with feet of snow in parts of the Golden State mountains in the Midwest .
The storm will continue across the West while “developing into a possible blizzard” in the coming days, the National Weather Service warned. The system was expected to sweep across a wide swath of the country, from Colorado to Minnesota, Monday through Wednesday, with driving snow, high winds and freezing rain.
“The heavy snowfall will have major impacts in many parts of the country,” the weather service warned. “Travel could become impossible.”
A section of California Highway 89 was closed due to heavy snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area, Highway Patrol said. Parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains could see five feet of snow and whiteout conditions Sunday and Monday, the weather service said.
As the storm rolls east, AccuWeather said parts of I-90 and I-94, major highways in the Upper Midwest, may be forced to close as snow accumulates.
HEAVY SNOW AND FLASH FLOOD WATCHES: California and the central United States brace for a time of wrath
“Major” snowstorm forecast from Colorado to Minnesota
A strong low pressure system expected to form over Colorado and Kansas on Monday will pull moist air north from the Gulf of Mexico, combining it with extremely cold air from the polar regions of Canada, said explained AccuWeather meteorologist Thomas Geiger.
“A major snowstorm is in the cards from Colorado to Minnesota midweek,” he said.
The worst of the storm could hit late Tuesday through Wednesday, with snowfall rates of up to several centimeters per hour in some places. Wind gusts could reach 60 mph, Geiger said.
Snow will continue to push east as the storm strengthens. Parts of Minnesota could occasionally see snow with any icy mix. Geiger warned that a tenth of an inch of ice can be dangerous.
Some areas will see a heavy glaze of ice
“Through much of central and southern Minnesota, heavy ice icing can be more impactful than snow,” Geiger said. Some areas of North and South Dakota that only see snow could see two feet, he said.
The storm could last all week, said AccuWeather meteorologist Lauren Hyde. Still unclear: what impact this will have on the Northeast at the end of the week. But heavy snowfall and ice could arrive, forecasters say.
Southern California Flood; The south could see flooding, tornadoes
In southern California, parts of Ventura and San Luis Obispo County were inundated with more than 7 inches of rain, the weather service reported. Localized rainfall rates of up to one inch per hour inundated parts of southwestern California, with total rainfall reaching three inches in some areas. Flash flooding and debris flows were a concern, especially in and near areas recently scorched by wildfires in the drought-stricken region.
The National Weather Service warned of possible severe weather Tuesday and Wednesday in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Severe thunderstorms will be capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds and hail, the weather service said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Powerful winter storm could dump feet of snow on parts of the country