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Series of storms aim West Coast, days after 6 people die in storm-related crashes, snow on Arizona and New Mexico desert

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A series of storms will take aim at the West Coast this weekend, supporting widespread rain, heavy mountain snows and gusty winds across California, the Pacific Northwest and into the interior West and Four Corners. The event comes just several days after Winter Storm Fisher claimed the lives of six people in Oklahoma and New Mexico, and dropped relatively rare snow on the Arizona and New Mexico desert.

A series of storms will take aim at the West Coast this weekend supporting widespread rain, heavy mountain snows, and gusty winds across California, the Pacific Northwest and into the interior West and Four Corners.

Rainfall should start along the West Coast by early to mid-day Saturday, January 5 with locally heavy rainfall and a marginal flash flood threat possible especially for favored upslope regions of Northern California, NWS said.

Significant snowfall accumulations are expected in the northern California mountains and the Sierra Nevada range where 30 – 60+ cm (1 to 2+ feet) are possible.

In addition to precipitation, gusty winds are also expected to accompany this system with high wind warnings, watches, and advisories in effect across parts of Oregon, much of northern California, and portions of Nevada.

Precipitation spreads eastward by Sunday with locally heavy rainfall and mountain snows likely across the Intermountain West and the Southwest.

The upper level system ejects into the Plains by Monday, January 7 with rainfall likely to develop along the cold front across the upper/middle Mississippi Valley and back into the Southern Plains.

The event comes 2 days after winter storm, named Fisher by The Weather Channel, hit Southwest and Southern Plains on January 3, causing hundreds of crashes, including a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma and wrecks that killed at least 6 people in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

"The first month of 2019 kicked off with a winter storm across the south-central United States, unleashing disruptive snow and ice across the region," said Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist. "Snow accumulations between 76 – 152 mm (3 and 6 inches) were common across west-central Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle from late Wednesday to Thursday night. Sleet and freezing rain also left a glaze of ice in parts of central Oklahoma."

Image credit: NASA/Terra MODIS. Acquired January 3, 2019

Road conditions remained difficult Friday morning, with reports of crashes near Lawton, Oklahoma, where roads continued to have slick spots and slush, TWN reports.

Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Wednesday there had been nearly 225 accidents in the area since the beginning of the New Year. Sixty-six of the accidents involved injuries, the AP reported.

All government buildings in Albuquerque were shut down Wednesday, the first time in more than a decade, KOAT.com reported.

"This has been the largest snowstorm in several years," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.

Before arriving in Oklahoma and Texas, the system brought snow to parts of the Arizona and New Mexico desert.

Snow blanketed Saguaro National Park and the Grand Canyon, a relatively rare occurrence.

Featured image credit: NASA/Terra MODIS. Acquired January 3, 2019

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