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Out West: Unseasonably warm temperatures riding in on “Pineapple express”

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Rains bring minimal drought relief, avalanche warnings in effect.

An active weather pattern continues to bring much needed rain and snow to areas of the western U.S. but will be of limited value in terms of bringing significant relief to California's drought situation. Recent surveys place California's high Sierra snowpack at only 12 percent of normal.

While strong storms continue to bring moderate to heavy precipitation across much of the Pacific Northwest, offshore high pressure continues to block this activity from reaching areas from about San Francisco south.

A strong west to east component of upper level winds continues to bring unseasonably warm conditions all across the western U.S. Daytime highs on Wednesday were expected to run in the 70s and low 80s across southern California with this warmth extending into parts of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

Rain and snow are expected to continue today but be limited to areas from about Sacramento north to include far northern Nevada, northern Utah and much of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and western Montana and Wyoming. Avalanche danger continues to run high, especially in the Oregon and Washington Cascade ranges where warnings are in effect as another in a series of storms should bring relatively mild temperatures, and heavy, wet snow to higher elevations here.

Snow levels continue unusually high for this time of year. The trajectory of rain bearing sub tropical air continues along a southwest to northeast line from just north of Hawaii to near Eureka, California, where moderate to heavy rainfall is expected to continue on and off for the next several days. The southern boundary of precipitation is forecast to lift even further north as high pressure increases off the southern California coast, and this will reinforce the existing dry pattern of the last few days for much of California.

The long range outlook continues the current trend into the coming weekend. Another Pacific trough and associated storm system is expected for the west coast this Saturday. This should bring a chance for significant rain and snow to return to California, but once again mostly for areas north of San Francisco. Snow levels may drop this weekend due to colder air, with the high Sierras seeing snow down to about 6,000 ft by Sunday morning.

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