A snowy period ahead for the Pacific Northwest

We are currently at the end of a period of normal snowfall in the Pacific Northwest lowlands, with the sun rapidly strengthening.

But not this year.

The latest forecasts show heavy snowfall in the lowlands west of Washington over the next few days, with many of you experiencing several inches of white.

And we have an extended, colder than usual period ahead.

Let me give you the details of the forecast.

Today, we have a cold air mass over the area…cold enough to snow anywhere in Washington State. Temperatures drop in the teens and twenties in western Washington and single digits in eastern Washington (see low temperatures below). Several daily low temperature records fell last night.

Tonight, a wet front will approach, spreading precipitation across the region. Snow will move into the Puget Sound region after 8pm.

Note that the story in the Seattle Times is very false, assuming that it will snow this afternoon around 4 pm. It also speaks of a cold air current from the Fraser River later today. Simply not true.

Let me show you the cumulative total of snowfall in Seattle from the most powerful forecasting tool available: a set of many high-resolution weather predictions, each slightly different. (UTC time, 06Z/26 is 10pm tonight). A quick start of nwo around 9pm. The black line is the average of the whole…. overall a very good forecast. Just under 1.5 inches. And it all ended around 3am.

The distribution of snow will be quite varied, so let me show you snow until 10 a.m. Sunday (below).

Little snow near the Strait of Juan de Fuca and right on the Pacific Coast. The Puget Sound Convergence Zone feature will increase snow east of the Olympics. Lots of snow in the mountains and a good bit of snow east of Washington east of the Columbia River. There’s more snow east of Seattle than in the city.

Temperatures will be in the range of possible snowfall. There will be wet snow and there will be less snow near the water. Note that the depth of the snow will be less than the amount of snowfall. Snow melts and compresses on the surface.

Temperatures will be warmer in the 40s lower on Sunday (the sun is stronger again, plus the inshore currents behind the front). So I expect the roads to melt quickly.

But we’re not done with the snow yet.

On Monday, a center of low pressure will approach the southwest coast of Washington, pulling cold air back into the lowlands from within. This low trough (and related to the higher trench) will bring more snow into the area, first west of Oregon and then west of Washington.

Snowfall for the 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Monday showed heavy snowfall over coastal areas and southwestern Washington. Portland is a few inches.

And then over the next 24 hours (ending at 4 p.m. Tuesday), Puget Sound and Seattle will add a few inches.

And people, this is not the end of the snow menace. 😀

The latest 8-14 day temperature forecast from the NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center is enough to make you want to buy thermal underwear and hot chocolate.

And if you think what’s happening here is unusual, the cold, snow, rain and wind in California is extraordinary and record-breaking for this time of year.


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