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Winter Weather Dumps Rain in the West, Brings Blizzard to Dakotas

It's going to be a white Christmas for much the Rockies and the Midwest this holiday weekend, while parts of the West Coast got a drenching.
Image: Snow in western Washington state
Snow hit western Washington state on Friday.King5

After dumping heavy rain on Los Angeles and several inches of snow in the Pacific Northwest, Winter Storm Europa has already snarled travel along the West Coast — even as it promises some a picturesque white Christmas.

The storm continued to make its way across the country Saturday, placing a large swath of the Dakotas is under a blizzard warning for Sunday and Monday, with the National Weather Service forecasting heavy snow and strong winds.

The Dakota Access pipeline protest encampment in southern North Dakota will be affected by the blizzard conditions. Morton County Sheriff's Department spokesman Rob Keller says many left during a blizzard earlier this month, but added that there could be at least 500 people still at the camp.

To the east, parts of central Minnesota are under an ice storm warning. Snow is also forecast for much of Idaho, Montana, Utah and northeast Colorado.

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The NOAA Storm Prediction Center cautioned that warm, humid air could cause severe weather in the lower Plains, Arkansas and Oklahoma on Sunday.

Europa dumped heavy snow on the Pacific Northwest, Friday, causing at least one major accident in Spokane Washington, according to the Weather Channel.

The storm also closed parts of California's I-5 highway in the Grapevine area Friday, according to the California Highway Patrol. The roadway re-opened early Saturday.

Europa is the second winter storm to hit the drought-plagued Los Angeles region this December. According to the National Weather Service, the storms have dropped a record-breaking 4.08 inches of rain — 265 percent higher than the average rainfall.

Christmas Day could also be stormy for parts of the southwest, according to the Storm Prediction Center, which said there is a slight risk of thunderstorms and scattered wind gusts in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and parts of Northern Texas.

Related: Record-Setting Brutal Cold Blast Snarls Airports, Roads

The Northeast will be cold, but it is expected to remain dry, New England will see highs in the 20s, New York is expected to remain in the mid-40s and Washington, D.C. should see a high of 50, according to the Weather Channel.

In the South, temperatures are expected to remain dry heading into Christmas Day, which is good news for visitors to the annual Surfing Santa's competition in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Since 2010, hundreds of surfers celebrate the holidays by dressing in Santa suits and hitting the waves, cheered on by thousands of spectators.

In 2015, the Surfing Santa's event had more than 600 surfers and 8,000 spectators, according to the organization's website. Proceeds from the event are donated to a local cancer charity.