Winter Storm Cara to bring more snow to Rockies; freezing rain, ice storm threat for plains

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A Foot and a Half of Snow from Cara

By Weather.com

Winter Storm Cara has already has dumped over a foot of snow in parts of the West and still has a mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain in store for the West and Plains that could snarl Thanksgiving holiday travel.

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A textbook combination of Arctic air plunging south and tropical moisture surging north will set the stage for freezing rain across a swath of the southern and central Plains over the next few days. In some areas, accumulating ice will create dangerous driving and walking conditions and may even be enough to cause a few spotty power outages.

Numerous watches, warnings and advisories for winter weather are posted across a swath of the West, Plains and Upper Midwest.

See images from the stormy weather:

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Winter Storm Cara to bring more snow to Rockies; freezing rain, ice storm threat for plains
Snow falls on a person as they wait for a bus in downtown Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Two women run through a snow flurry Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A bus window is covered by snow and ice, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Evanston, Ill. Snow has now overspread nearly all of the Chicago Metro area early Sunday afternoon and is expected to continue into the night before ending. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A girl uses a campaign sign for Chris Christie to help her parents clear snow from their car after attending a campaign stop by the Republican presidential candidate, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Dover, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Jeremy Kincaid clears a sidewalk with a snowblower after a snow storm Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Derry, N.H. The storm was New Englandâs biggest snowstorm so far this season, coming two weeks after a massive blizzard engulfed much of the Eastern Seaboard but largely spared Boston and points north. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A pedestrian walks past a grove of snow-covered trees Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Marlborough, Mass. What started off as rain Friday morning quickly turned to sticky, heavy snow. Many school districts in the region closed for the day, including in some in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)
A pedestrian passes in front of an American flag as snow falls in Manchester, N.H., Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Stoic New Englanders doggedly went about their business Friday as a winter storm that could drop close to a foot of snow in some areas struck the region. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Dave Chiokadze, left, and James Radcliffe, volunteers for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, walk through the snow knocking on doors in search of Trump supporters Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Londonderry, N.H. The twenty-two year olds, both from out-of-state whoâve never been involved in politics, are on the front lines of Trumpâs ground war in New Hampshire, where the billionaire businessman is under intense pressure to win big. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Althea LeBlanc, 9, jumps off a snow bank after a snow storm Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Derry, N.H. The storm was New Englandâs biggest snowstorm so far this season, coming two weeks after a massive blizzard engulfed much of the Eastern Seaboard but largely spared Boston and points north. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Snow falls on a couple as they cross Penn Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Charlie Anderson, 13, rests while clearing snow outside his home in Towson, Md., Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. East Coast residents continued to dig themselves out after a massive weekend snowstorm. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Street lights are illuminated as a jogger runs around Lake Harriet, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 in Minneapolis a heavy snow storm. Parts of the Midwest including southern Minnesota experienced blizzard conditions. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Sharee Sanderson, left, sleds down a hill with her daughter Calli Sanderson in Flagstaff, Ariz., Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. A winter storm dropped snow across Arizona on Monday, from the state's high country down to the desert region bordering Mexico. (AP Photo/Josh Biggs)
Grace McGuire of Washington shovels out her car in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, as the nation's capital digs out following a monster weekend snow. East Coast cities hit hard by a massive snowstorm are getting closer to their normal routines after more than three days with life at a virtual standstill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Students on the campus of Northern Arizona University navigate through blustery weather in Flagstaff, Ariz., Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. A winter storm dropped snow on the region, closing schools and making travel difficult. (AP Photo/Josh Biggs)
A snowplow clears snow off of Interstate 80 near Earlham, Iowa, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. A winter storm that dumped heavy snow on Denver and much of Colorado has moved east into Nebraska and Iowa. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Rob Bitz rests on his bicycle in the snow along a street Sunday, Jan.17, 2016, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Flagstaff resident Ruth Tilman sweeps off her car after a storm in Flagstaff, Ariz. on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. A series of El Nino-related storms dumped heavy snow on the region. (AP Photo/Josh Biggs)
An attendee arrives in the snow for a Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump campaign stop, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Michaela Witt sleds down a hill into Pasley Park on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D. A major winter storm impacting the central U.S. could bring several inches of snow to southeastern South Dakota. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
Peter Best and Mackenzie Kuhl hold hands while walking across the Stone Arch Bridge, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Minneapolis. A winter storm is expected to dump up to a foot of snow in south-central Minnesota before it tracks north and east. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)
Judith Fourzan takes a walk around Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. A heavy snowfall created a winter playground for El Pasoans after several inches remained from an overnight storm. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP) 
A jogger makes his way along a snow-covered street in the Hudson Park neighborhood, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and gusty winds are creating treacherous driving conditions across upstate New York as eastern parts of the state receive their first severe weather of the winter season. The National Weather Service says 1 to 4 inches has fallen from the Albany area northwest to the Mohawk Valley and north to the southern Adirondacks. The weather service has posted winter weather advisories for all of New York on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Barb Grams of Bremerton, Wash., looks up at the snowflakes coming down after getting out of church in Silverdale, Wash., Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. (Larry Steagall/Kitsap Sun via AP) 
A Iowa DOT plow clears snow to widen the path along Highway 63, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Waterloo, Iowa. (Matthew Putney/Waterloo Courier via AP)
Children sled in Spellerberg Park, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, Sioux Falls, S.D. A major winter storm impacting the central U.S. could bring several inches of snow to southeastern South Dakota. (Jay Pickthorn/The Argus Leader via AP) 
Briana Betancis, 14, and Deziree Dominguez, 12, fly down a hill at Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. A heavy snowfall created a winter playground for El Pasoans after several inches remained from an overnight storm. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP) 
Miles Overstreet throws snowballs to his dog Ferris as they play at Madeline Park in the Kern Place neighborhood of El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. A heavy snowfall created a winter playground for El Pasoans after several inches remained from an overnight storm. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)
Wayne and Linda VanBerkun snowshoe near their home in southeastern Sioux Falls, S.D., Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. A major winter storm impacting the central U.S. could bring several inches of snow to southeastern South Dakota. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
Eastbound motorists on the Beltline highway in Madison, Wis. trail a snow plow working to clear the roadway Monday, Dec. 28, 2015.The storm system that spawned weekend twisters in North Texas brought winter storm woes to the Midwest on Monday and amplified flooding that's blamed for more than a dozen deaths. (AP Photo/John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - DECEMBER 27: A highway worker tries to shield himself while walking to his truck on December 27, 2015 in Lubbock, Texas. Coming on the heels of several strong tornadoes, some northern parts of Texas are experiencing blizzard conditions with wind gusts up to 50 mph and as much as 13 inches of snow forecast. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
A man's umbrella blows inside out as he walks along downtown Salt Lake City Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. The first major winter storm of the season dumped up to a foot of snow in some parts of the Salt Lake City metro area, snarling traffic on morning commutes to work and school. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
NEDERLAND, CO - DECEMBER 15: Steve Hauser plows snow in the Caribou Shopping Center in Nederland, Colorado on December 15, 2015. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
An unidentified motorist clears snow off his four-wheel-drive vehicle in high winds early Tuesday, Dec.15, 2015, in Denver. Forecasters predict that four to 10 inches of snow will blanket Colorado's eastern plains before the storm, which started Monday in the intermountain West, moves to the east. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
NEDERLAND, CO - DECEMBER 15: A yellow lab waits patiently in his owner's snowy old truck along East 1st Street in Nederland, Colorado on December 15, 2015. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day. The dog looked warm and didn't wait long in the car as his owner returned shortly after an errand in the town. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Motorists are stacked up in a line of vehicles slowed to a crawl along Logan Street by high winds driving granular snow into drifts early Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Denver. The biggest winter storm to hit the Denver area so far this season is making the morning commute a mess, causing many spinouts and crashes in the slippery snow and delaying flights by an average of about an hour and a-half at Denver International Airport. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DENVER, CO - DEC. 15: Anna Renton, 7, right, relaxes while neighbor Graham Langner, 7, has a snow fight with his nanny, Ashely Kish.The Denver metro area received more snow than expected overnight, closing schools across the city with some areas measuring a foot of snow by the early morning. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
John Malsbary, front right, joins forces with Joe Gray, back right, to push a sedan driven by Rebecca Conway out of a curbside spot where the vehicle was stuck early Tuesday, Dec.15, 2015, in Denver. Forecasters predict that four to 10 inches of snow will blanket Colorado's eastern plains before the storm, which started Monday in the intermountain West, moves to the east. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
LAKEWOOD, CO - DECEMBER 15: Crut Liles clears snow from his walkways outside his home in Lakewood, December, 15, 2015. Many schools in the area are closed due to the snow storm. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DEC. 15: A CDOT crew runs their plow truck southbound on Colorado Blvd. near E. 13th Ave. in Denver. The Denver metro area received more snow than expected overnight, closing schools across the city with some areas measuring a foot of snow by the early morning. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Six year old Caroline Randolph plays in imitation snow falling from a storefront in Northport, Ala., as she enjoys the Dickens Downtown celebration Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Rain and thunderstorms, rather than snow, dampened the holiday festival. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP) 
Missy Thomas dumps a shovel full of snow in front of her niece and nephew Alora, 3, and Daine Thomas, 2, as they try to bury a small pumpkin in a mound of snow while their aunt clears her driveway Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Bismarck, N.D. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)
A pedestrian crosses North Seventh Street in Bismarck early Tuesday morning as the first snowfall of the winter season passed through North Dakota leaving several inches of wet heavy snow across the state. (Tom Stromme/Tribune via AP)
Plows clean up a street after the area received heavy snow in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. A record-breaking snowstorm lingering over the northern Plains on Tuesday caused slippery roads, but brought much-needed moisture to the region. (Jay Pickthorn/The Argus Leader via AP)
Tom O'Hara snowplows on the sidewalk with his dog, Smokey, by his side after the area received heavy snow in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. A record-breaking snowstorm lingering over the northern Plains on Tuesday caused slippery roads, but brought much-needed moisture to the region. (Jay Pickthorn/The Argus Leader via AP)

Julie McCabe, of Boulder, carries her dog "Scout" in the snow on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera via AP)

Enric Sabadell, of Boulder, scrapes the ice off his windshield before heading to a friends house for Thanksgiving dinner, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015 in Boulder, Colo. (Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera via AP)
Al Frelk walks his dog, Shiba, 10, in Lords Park in Elgin, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Asked about the snow, Frelk said, 'It's beautiful, but can be tough to drive in. Though Shiba has been waiting 9 months for this.' The first winter storm of the season dropped more than 10 inches of snow at numerous Chicagoland locations. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
People walk about as first snow of the year falls, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The National Weather Service says heavy snowfall was expected Friday afternoon into early Saturday in parts of northwest and north central Iowa. Meteorologist Kevin Skow says the heaviest snow ban is expected to fall from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, down to Dubuque. (Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via AP)
Hope Peterson, 22, and Alex Cutler, 24, both of Sioux Falls, shovel the sidewalk in front of Cutler's parents' house during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
Ground crew throws snowmelt to the snow covered seats before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A woman cleans snow from her car on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Northbrook, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Harvey Wollman, of Sioux Falls, uses a snow blower to clear the sidewalk near his house during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
A car moves slowly on the road during a snowstorm, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Northbrook, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Cars are covered by snow in rental car parking lot at O'Hare International Airport, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Chicago. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A woman walks on the street during a snowstorm, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Northbrook, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Bridger Wagner, 3, plays in the snow in front of his house during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
Fans wait in the snow covered seats before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A security personnel waits in the snow covered stands before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Brittany Tappen stands next to her vehicle, one of several that were stranded by ice and snow on the northbound off ramp from I-25 to Baptist Road during the morning commute north of Colorado Springs, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP) 
Snow is plowed from the street during a heavy snowy day on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Northbrook, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Jim Paulson, of Sioux Falls, shovels part of his driveway before using the snow blower to clear the rest during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Snow hit the Denver metro area having an impact on air travel at Denver International Airport. They were clearing out from the snow on Tuesday, November 17, 2015. Raul Hernandez shovels snow in the economy lot. Hernandez and his crew had worked all night to clear snow. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A woman walks her dog in fresh snow at Chautauqua Park, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Vehicles move slowly on the road as snow falls Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Wheeling, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LAKEWOOD, CO - NOVEMBER 11: Brandon Nelli, a student at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, shovels snow during a Veteran's Day snow storm the moved into the area overnight, November, 11, 2015. Lakewood got almost 3 inches in some areas form the storm. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Summer Wagner, of Sioux Falls, shovels snow from her driveway during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 11: A blanket of white snow covers Fort Logan National Cemetery during a Veteran's Day snow storm the moved into the area overnight, November, 11, 2015. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Curtis Hansen, left, and Jeff Malley push a motorist up the icy northbound off-ramp from I-25 to Baptist Road Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, north of Colorado Springs, Colo. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP) 
A woman runs in fresh snow at Chautauqua Park, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight winter storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
MONUMENT, CO. - November 17: Bob Swift clearing his driveway of a deep drift of snow in Monument, CO. November 17, 2015 Monument, CO (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A woman walks with an umbrella during a snowstorm, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Northbrook, Ill. The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Salvador Gonzalez, left, and his 11-year-old son, Julio, build a snowman near their home as a storm, which is packing high winds and snow, blankets the plains Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. The storm has closed much of Interstate 70, Colorado's main east-west highway, because of blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains as well as in northwest Kansas. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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A cold front and accompanying upper-level storm system continues to carve through the Rockies and Four Corners Region, squeezing out snow even at relatively low elevations. As we've seen already, snow may even accumulate on some valley floors.

This system will then direct its energy and moisture into the Plains through Thanksgiving Day and continuing into much of the holiday weekend, bringing a mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain, not to mention heavy rain.

As if this weren't enough, strong arctic high pressure will also move in allowing the first real blast of arctic air to surge into the U.S. The coldest air mass of the season to date is expected for the West and the Plains during the holiday weekend.

Western Snow Continues

Although the heaviest snow has likely ended, periods of light snow and snow showers should persist across portions of the Intermountain West and central to southern Rockies through Thursday and Friday.

Snowfall Forecast

This map shows additional snow yet to fall from now through the end of the event and does not include snow that has already accumulated.

Blizzard warnings continue through Thanksgiving Day over portions of Sweetwater County in southern Wyoming, including a stretch of Interstate 80 through Rock Springs and Green River, as stronger winds accompanying the snow and arctic cold front could lead to areas reduced visibility in blowing and drifting snow. This is particularly of concern over ridgetops and mountain passes.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Western snow will fade to just lingering pockets over the high country of Colorado and the adjacent High Plains westward into northern Utah and northeast Nevada.

Snow levels will remain low through the West, with accumulating snow expected in more populated areas compared to the last few winter storms, including parts of the Snake River Valley of Idaho and northern Nevada.

For those traveling for Thanksgiving, be ready for winter driving conditions on Interstate 15 in Utah, Idaho, and Montana; Interstate 80 in parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming; Interstate 84 from north of Salt Lake City into Idaho and Oregon; Interstate 90 in Montana; and Interstate 70 in Colorado.

Plains Ice Storm


Arctic cold air will plunge south into the Plains through Friday. The shallow layer of below-freezing arctic air near ground level will slide underneath a large plume of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, setting the stage for a wintry mess of freezing rain and sleet just in time for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the rest of the holiday weekend.

As a result, the National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for portions of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, including the city of Amarillo, Texas. These warnings are valid from Thursday night through midday Saturday.

Those warnings are just part of a zone where freezing rain and sleet are expected to occur. That zone extends from parts of Iowa and Nebraska into northern and western Kansas, the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and northeast New Mexico.

Where the cold air manages to dislodge the warm layer just above ground level, any precipitation will change to plain snow. Overall, freezing and frozen precipitation is expected from Thanksgiving Day through Saturday, from the southern High Plains to the Missouri Valley and northern Great Lakes.

Despite recent warmth, and warmer early-season ground temperatures, the arriving arctic air mass would allow for some ice accumulations on roads, trees and powerlines. Here are the expected level of impacts from the ice:

Most roads will become icy and hazardous. The first to ice up will be untreated roads, bridges and overpasses.

Furthermore, precipitation may begin as rain in some of these areas, followed by the arctic front, which could cause flash freezing on roads, even before freezing precipitation begins.
In a few areas, some limbs or trees may break, and some power outages may result.

However, we do not expect the level of ice accumulation and wind to produce widespread downed trees or widespread multi-day power outages. This is partly due to the potential for precipitation types to change from freezing rain to sleet, perhaps to snow, rather than many hours of freezing rain over a large area.

In addition, much of the affected region lacks significant tree cover outside of trees planted in cities, towns and as windbreaks between farm fields. As a result, long-distance power lines aren't at risk from falling trees and limbs the way they are in the East. The pure weight of ice or the combination of stress from ice and high winds can still damage power infrastructure outside of cities in the Plains, but this storm is unlikely to bring intense enough conditions to do that.

For now, any snowfall amounts from the Plains to the Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes are expected to be light to moderate. (Translation: It may be wet snow, but widespread 6-inch-plus amounts, as from Winter Storm Bella last weekend, are not expected).

If that weren't enough, ahead of the cold front, rain and thunderstorms are expected and locally heavy rainfall will bring the threat of flash flooding from Texas to the Midwest.

Forecast Highs

The upper-level trough, or southward dip in the jet stream, will dive across the West and combined with a strong area of high pressure from Canada, the result will be the first blast of arctic air arriving in the West and Plains.

Low temperatures will be up to 25 degrees below average in interior portions of the Pacific Northwest and Rockies Thursday and Friday mornings.

Overnight lows will range from single digits to well below zero in the northern and central Rockies beginning Thursday morning and lasting until Saturday morning.

This will lead to the coldest temperatures so far this season for many areas. A couple of examples include Helena, Montana, where the lowest temperature recorded so far this season had been 14 degrees on Nov. 21; Helena fell to 13 late Wednesday morning, and lows there are expected to drop to the single digits the rest of this week. Reno, Nevada has seen the mercury drop as low as 21 degrees on Nov. 11; lows in the teens are in the forecast Friday and Saturday nights.

Temperatures are expected to drop into the upper 30s at the San Francisco International Airport late this week, and a new daily record low may be threatened on Friday morning (current record is 37 degrees).

Wind chills may plummet to the teens or 20s below zero in parts of western Wyoming Thursday night.

High temperatures will remain very cold as well. Highs will be 10 to 30 degrees colder than what is normally expected for the end of November over parts of the Rockies and High Plains on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, while highs 10 to 20 degrees below average will persist over Nevada and parts of neighboring states. Highs will only reach the teens and 20s in parts of the Rockies, with 30s and 40s for the Pacific Northwest and Great Basin.

Storm Reports

Snow started to pile up on Tuesday across portions of the interior Northwest, Sierra Nevada and far northern Rockies. Some freezing rain was also reported in the Columbia Basin. Snow was reported in parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho on Wednesday.

Bend, Oregon, reported 10 to 16 inches of new snow Tuesday night, with snowfall rates of 4 inches in 3 hours. This is quite impressive for this relatively dry plateau to the east of the Oregon Cascades, which only averages about 24 inches of snow each season. This heavy snow brought traffic to a standstill on U.S. 97 Tuesday night.

Farther south, up to 23 inches of snow fell around Crater Lake, which The Weather Channel recently named the snowiest place in Oregon.

Up to a foot of snow in the Sierra Nevada snarled traffic on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit in California Tuesday, as well. Up to 22 inches of snow was reported at Kirkwood Mountain Resort south of Lake Tahoe on the California side of the state line. On the Nevada side, Mount Rose Ski Area tallied 10 inches of snow, the top reported total in Nevada as of Wednesday afternoon.

Other top totals by state as of 4 p.m. MST Wednesday include 8.5 inches near Clancy, Montana; 4.5 inches near Republic in eastern Washington; and 2 inches in Naples and Burley, Idaho.

Check back for updates and the latest information on Winter Storm Cara. The name Cara (CAH-ruh) is taken from the Latin word meaning "beloved."

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