Cold air could bring thunderstorms, hail to region today

PORTLAND, Ore. - Keep those umbrellas handy and a pair of earplugs might also be a good idea if you're going to be out in the weather today. It could get loud.

Thunderstorms could sweep across the Northwest today as cold, unsettled air rolls in behind a front heading east, KATU Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby said Tuesday morning. Heavy rain showers and small hail are also possible, she said.

"The coldest upper-level weather system we've seen in three weeks returns to the Pacific Northwest," Shelby said in her morning forecast update. "After around 10 a.m., the precipitation will become more showery. Colder air will likely move in around then as well. This is when we'll see snow levels begin to drop a bit more to 1,000-1,500 feet in heavier showers."

The cold air and moisture should also bring some fresh snow to Cascade ski resorts and some Coast Range locations, she added. "One area that started to see more of a changeover to snow this morning is in the Cascades above 1,500 feet. That would be Welches or east of there."

Shelby said 1 to 4 inches of snow is possible at higher elevation locations.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Special Weather Statement Monday evening calling for "dramatically lower snow levels over Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon" on Tuesday. No warnings or watches are posted for the region but the NWS does mention the cold conditions again in a Hazardous Weather Outlook.

The NWS advised travelers to check road conditions before driving into mountain passes, including Coast Range roadways.

The cold temperatures should relent a bit as the week goes on and we can expect more showery, cool weather that's typical for February, Shelby said.

Watch a Web Weather Update from Rhonda: