The warnings were issued by the Northwest Avalanche Center, which said at least 30 people in the United States had been killed in avalanches so far this season. That’s the highest number of fatalities since the 2015-16 season, according to the center. The warnings came as parts of the Pacific Northwest braced for heavier-than-usual precipitation as a result of an “atmospheric river,” the National Weather Service said on Twitter. That type of weather event — “a long river of moisture” that can hover over concentrated areas for a period of time — is expected to lead to very heavy rainfall or, in higher elevations, intense snowfall, said meteorologists at the Weather Service in Seattle. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described such events as “rivers in the sky.” This one extends about 3,000 miles, from the coast of British Columbia to the coast of Hawaii, said Dustin Guy, a Weather Service meteorologist. Though Seattle may see only about half an inch of rain, coastal areas and mountain regions can expect up to three inches, said another Weather Service meteorologist, Matthew Cullen. In high-elevation places, like the Cascade Mountains, one to two feet of snow may fall in elevations above 4,000 feet, he said.
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