The Olympic mountains peek through clouds Wednesday morning. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

The Olympic mountains peek through clouds Wednesday morning. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Major storm headed for Pacific Northwest

High winds, drenching rain and heavy snow are expected by the end of the week.

By Martí­n Bilbao / The Olympian

A strong storm will sweep through the Northwest Friday and Saturday with strong winds, heavy rain and snow in the Cascades, forecasters predict.

After a brief respite Wednesday, rain and mountain snow will return Thursday and intensify Friday, according to an AccuWeather news release. The storm may be the strongest to hit the Northwest in months, the release read.

A strong area of low pressure will reach the Washington coastline by Friday afternoon, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. From there, the storm is projected to move inland, bringing a mix of heavy rain and snow in the passes.

“This will be the first significant snowstorm of the season for the Washington Cascades,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll in the news release. “The concern is winds will be strong enough to down trees and power lines. Power outages are a risk for the Seattle and Portland metro areas.”

Doll added travel could become dangerous on U.S. 2 and I-90 due to heavy and blowing snow.

The speed of the winds remains uncertain, according to a Wednesday update from the National Weather Service. However, winds will be strong enough to reduce visibility across the Northwest, making travel difficult, the update read.

The update also projected a high likelihood for hazardous mountain snow in the Olympics through Saturday and a moderate likelihood of large waves and high surf along the coast. Seas could build up to 25 feet by Saturday and coincide with a king tide event, the update read.

Additionally, the update noted a low confidence for river flooding in the interior lowlands and Cascades.

Rain may continue Sunday through Tuesday but at a lower intensity than Friday and Saturday, the update projected.

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