High wind warning in effect for eastern Idaho this weekend with heavy snow in the mountains
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IDAHO FALLS – Another storm is headed to eastern Idaho this weekend, but the type of weather will be different, depending on where you live.
In the Upper Snake River Plain from Burley through Mud Lake and into eastern Magic Valley, the National Weather Service is forecasting rain and very strong wind on Friday and Saturday. This includes Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and surrounding communities. Areas farther west will also be affected, such as Arco, Craters of the Moon, Howe, Mackay and Dubois.
“Precipitation will likely fall as rain Friday night into Saturday as snow levels climb to near 6,000 feet. As the moisture moves out of the area, snow will begin to mix in Saturday evening as the cold air filters in and drops the snow levels to valley floors,” the NWS says.
Overall, there is only a 20% chance of snow for the Snake River Plain. If it snows, less than an inch is expected.
The primary concern is wind, which Meteorologist Jack Messick says will be similar to the windstorm earlier this week. A high wind warning and advisory are in effect for the weekend, which means wind speeds will likely be greater than 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.
“There is a greater than 90% chance of seeing wind gusts greater than 55 mph from Atomic City through Idaho Falls. There is a greater than 70% chance of seeing wind gusts greater than 48 mph across the rest of the Snake Plain and eastern Magic Valley,” the NWS says. “With the cold front moving in, winds will stay elevated and gradually strengthen overnight Friday night into Saturday.”
Meteorologists are forecasting 20-25 mph winds across the Arco desert Friday afternoon with sustained winds of 25-35 mph and gusts around 60 mph on Saturday.
There may be blowing dust across stretches of Interstate 15 in Jefferson County.
In higher mountain areas, a winter storm warning and advisory are in effect Friday and Saturday. This includes areas surrounding the Snake River Plain, such as Island Park, Ashton, Swan Valley, Driggs and areas farther south like McCammon, Soda Springs and Montpelier.
Other areas under a winter storm warning or advisory include Challis, Mackay, Galena and Stanley. The NWS is forecasting a high probability of more than six inches of snow in these areas over the next two days.
Meteorologists anticipate wet, heavy snow. There’s a 60% chance of six inches or more in the Island Park and Soda Springs area, with a 70% chance of six inches or more in Driggs. The NWS is also forecasting a 40% chance of six inches or more in Montpelier.
Similar conditions are expected in the central Idaho mountains, with areas that include Shoshone, Fairfield, Glenns Ferry, Carey, Twin Falls, Burley, Oakley and Malta.
“Snow will begin in the Sawtooths and Salmon River Mountains as early as Friday morning spilling eastward into the Lost River Range,” the NWS says. “Rates will vary through Friday but begin to ramp up Friday night into Saturday with an injection of Pacific moisture. As the rates increase Saturday morning, snow levels will rise from valley floors to near 6,000 feet.”
An 80% chance of eight inches or more is likely in Stanley, with a 90% chance at Galena Summit. Much less snow is predicted in the Wood River Valley, with a 40% chance of more than four inches in Ketchum.
The storm is expected to begin as early as Friday morning in some areas and last until sometime Saturday. A specific timeframe was not specified.
The NWS has more information in the graphics below.
A seven-day forecast and conditions in your community are available here.