October snowstorm set to smash early-season records

In conjunction with the record-challenging cold that is set to surge southward across the central and western United States, another potentially record-setting snowstorm is set to target millions of Americans in the coming days. This time, the dose of wintry precipitation will target areas much farther south, including some that typically don't pick up snow until much later in the season.

With this storm coming on the heels of recent winterlike weather that shattered a 115-year-old snowfall record in the Twin Cities, residents across the Plains and Upper Midwest may check their calendars twice to make sure it's still October.

AccuWeather meteorologists expect the next storm to be one of the most disruptive so far this season for the western and central United States over the coming days. It is projected to bring record-challenging cold and snow, howling winds and even the threat of severe thunderstorms to areas farther east.

The Washington Cascades as well as the mountains across the interior Northwest will be first in line Friday and Friday night as snow expands southward from southern British Columbia. Those traveling across some of the mountain passes Friday afternoon and night -- especially on the eastern-facing slopes of the Washington Cascades and into the northern Rockies -- could face dangerous travel conditions as heavy, wet snow falls. As a result, winter storm warnings have been put into effect for the impending weather.

Progressing through the day and into the nighttime hours Friday, snow will continue to expand to the south and east, spreading into Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Places such as Great Falls and Helena, Montana, could both potentially be buried under double-digit snowfall totals from late Friday afternoon through Saturday morning before the snow comes to an end.

And for the mountainous areas in between the two cities, snowfall totals of more than 2 feet will be possible, providing a hefty early-season snowpack for people itching to hit the ski slopes.

Snow will continue to advance southeastward through the day on Saturday, into Wyoming, as well as the High Plains of Montana and the Dakotas. On Sunday, the leading edge of snowfall will continue its trek into Colorado and the central Plains.

Along with the snow, roaring winds will further increase the hazards associated with the storm, with blizzard conditions and nearly impossible travel predicted. Stretches of Interstates 90, 80, 25 and 15, just to name a few, could all be shut down for a time due to deteriorating and dangerous conditions this weekend.

"Even in areas that aren't expected to get snow, powerful wind gusts will bring the threat of blowing over high-profile vehicles. Almost every major transportation route in the Mountain West will experience this wind threat for a period of time this weekend," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said.

Strong and gusty winds will also create difficult firefighting conditions once again in northern Colorado on Saturday where the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires continue to burn and force evacuations. By Saturday night, however, Mother Nature will begin to lend a hand in the battle against those blazes by spreading snow into the area.

Snow will also begin to spread across the more populous areas of the Wyoming and Colorado Front Range on Saturday night. Cheyenne, Wyoming, as well as Fort Collins, Boulder and even Denver, Colorado, could all get snow as early as Saturday night, and with the temperatures already expected to be below freezing, it should begin to stick to the ground rather quickly.

Players and the limited number of fans being permitted at Sunday's NFL football game between Kansas City and Denver will have to brace for bitterly cold, blustery and snowy conditions. The AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature is expected to hover between a harsh 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the matchup.

The storm's snowfall area will continue to spread out during the day on Sunday, expanding into the Plains and even portions of the Midwest. North Platte, Nebraska, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and even places as far east as Minneapolis could get snow during the day on Sunday.

Minneapolis has had quite the stretch of winterlike conditions this October, with just over 8 inches of snow already observed. If the city picks up just 0.10 of an inch of snow from this storm, a new monthly snowfall record for October will fall. And the city is expected to shatter that record with 2-4 inches of new snow expected by the end of the weekend.

Even though it's not too unusual to see snowfall in all of the aforementioned cities during the month of October, this winterlike storm doesn't look like it will quit there. The continued surge of cold and snowy weather will continue to shift southward into portions of the southern Plains and Southwest by early next week, including places that aren't so accustomed to getting snowfall this early in the season. Some of these same regions have been experiencing unusually warm weather even for October standards. The average temperature in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been nearly 6 degrees above normal for the month so far.

The panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma are no strangers to snowy and icy conditions, but this impending storm system would prove to be unusual given the time of year. However, what may be even more unusual is that these locales also had an October snowstorm last year, when places like Amarillo picked up nearly a half of a foot of snow.

Snow and ice could cause major disruptions to the Monday morning commute all the way from Kansas City to Albuquerque.

Portions of the drought-stricken Southwest may also get their first bouts of precipitation in weeks as the storm continues to dive southward by next Monday. Residents of Flagstaff, Arizona, could even see snowflakes fly early next week.

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