Jan 5, 2024 - News

Snow and icy wind on tap for Seattle area

Illustration of a cold emoji chattering its teeth.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After one of the warmest Decembers on record and a mild start to January, heavy mountain snow and frosty temperatures appear headed for the Pacific Northwest, according to local weather experts.

Driving the news: A series of weather systems are expected to bring more than 3 feet of snow to the Cascade mountains and passes over the next few days, as well as the possibility of lowland snow to the Seattle area late next week.

Why it matters: The drier, warmer conditions forecast for an El Niño year have created concern about snowpack in the mountains, one of the most crucial climate-related variables in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Right now, snowpack is estimated to be at 40% of normal levels, Michael Fagin of Washington Online Weather told Axios. But about 20 inches is expected between now and Sunday evening, he said.
  • There's a chance some of the mountain passes will see more than 24 inches of snow between Monday and Wednesday, said Reid Wolcott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Plus: That's great news for Washington and Oregon skiers who've been encountering ice and bare spots where they'd hoped for snow.

Details: Cooler temperatures and rain are expected to arrive Sunday into Monday, bringing overnight temperatures near 32 degrees to Seattle and the possibility of lowland snow to western Whatcom County and the Hood Canal, said Wolcott.

  • There's a slim chance that Seattle could see a few flakes of snow on Monday but the chance of accumulating more than an inch is less than 10%, he said.
  • Next Friday, however, the Puget Sound region could be hit by chilling winds that might bring Seattle's high temperatures down into the 20s and deliver lowland snow, said Fagin.

Yes, but: Various weather models show a huge range of high temperature possibilities for Seattle next weekend, from the teens to the mid-40s, per the weather service.

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