By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 13,2017, 2:27:08PM,EDT
Following a summer of rampant wildfires and record-breaking heat, parts of the western United States are set to receive their first blast of chilly air and snow of the season.“A big change in the weather will occur in portions of the northern Rockies later this week,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.
In the interior Northwest, a blast of Canadian air will send high temperatures from near 80 F on Wednesday to the mid-40s on Friday.
The return of cooler Pacific air will also promote widespread clouds and rain showers in the drought-ridden area.
In Great Falls, Montana, 1.42 inches of rain usually falls during the month of September. However, the city hasn’t received any measurable rainfall since Aug. 13, and is under a severe drought as a result.
Similar conditions currently overspread much of Montana and the western Dakotas, propagating the many active wildfires in the area.
“However, precipitation will be beneficial to put out any wildfires and help to alleviate drought conditions,” Adamson said.
The Liberty, Lolo Peak and Meyers fires could stop spreading or even be partially quenched by the incoming weather.
The change in the weather pattern could mark an end to the fire season in parts of the high country.
Late-week rainfall, combined with the anticipated cooler conditions, will combine to bring the first snowfall of the season to intermediate and high-elevation areas.
Anyone with a view of the eastern Bitterroots and Caribou Range of Idaho, the Lewis Range in Montana and the Rockies of western Wyoming can expect them to be topped with white by the weekend.
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“In the higher elevations (primarily above 6,000 feet), such as Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park, temperatures will be cold enough for 6-12 inches of snow,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark. "Enough snow could fall to clog roads and trails and create a problem for tourists and hikers."
Motorists will need to exercise caution overnight and during the early mornings, when near-freezing temperatures could make for icy spots on the roads.
"Snow will fall on Logan Pass in Glacier National Park," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson. "Most of the main roads will be wet in the region, including over Lookout Pass along Interstate 90."
“Rain, heavy at times, will fall in many areas in western Wyoming and northwestern Wyoming on Thursday night and Friday,” Adamson said.
Drier weather and more seasonable temperatures are expected to return for the end of the weekend.
Meanwhile, along the coast of Washington and Oregon, seasonable temperatures are in store into Saturday. However, much cooler weather will follow for early next week.
Temperatures may struggle to get out of the 50s in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle on Monday.
It is possible the high country and intermediate elevations of the Cascades and the Blue Mountains receive their first snow of the season next week.