Elaine Thompson, Associated Press
Clerk Joel Bartlett stacks bags of a deicing product onto the loading dock of a hardware store Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, in Seattle, after making a quick run to the warehouse when supplies ran out. Seattle, a city more accustomed to rain than snow, prepared for a potentially major snow storm to hit Wednesday as the city's mayor urged residents to stay off roads and school officials prepared for the worst. Snow has been falling steadily in various parts of western Washington and Oregon since the weekend, but meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Seattle said the biggest amounts could come on Wednesday.

An intense winter storm that pounded the Pacific Northwest with heavy snow and wind Wednesday was just the first in an onslaught of powerful storms forecast to hammer the West into next week.

"There are quite a few storms lined up over the Pacific that will be coming onshore over the next several days," Weather Channel meteorologist Frank Giannasca said.

However, the storms should be mostly rain for most of the coastal cities that saw snow on Wednesday.

The storm dumped almost a foot of snow on Washington's capital, Olympia, the National Weather Service reported.

That amount was close to the city's 24-hour record of 14 inches. Seattle saw about 4-6 inches of snow.

Alaska Airlines announced that it canceled 38 flights into and out of Seattle and Portland, Ore.

High snow totals were the result of Arctic air that spilled into the region from Alaska, combined with ample Pacific moisture, Giannasca said.

Amazingly, the moisture that fed the storm stretched all the way from the Philippines to the U.S. West Coast, some 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, he said.

Welcome rain will make it down to the Bay Area and Sacramento today, the first measurable rain in San Francisco since mid-December, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.

That will be followed by a string of storms off and on through Tuesday. Rainfall totals from the storms will range from 10 to 20 inches along the Oregon and Northern California coasts, according to the weather service. About 4 to 6 feet of snow could pile up in the mountains of Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.