Western Washington has basically three main weather events in the winter -- flooding, windstorms and lowland snow. But I don't think I've ever seen all three in the same storm.
Then again, it's rare to see a Blizzard Warning too, but Mother Nature has even tossed that in for the mountains, forcing several pass closures.
The Blizzard Warning expired at 4 p.m. as the wind died down, but heavy snow was expected to continue through Friday afternoon. A Winter Storm Warning was issued for the mountains through 4 p.m. Friday, for another 15-30" of new snow.
That heavy snow and near-hurricane-force winds forced Snoqualmie Pass to close for most of Wednesday night. It briefly reopened Thursday morning before closing again later in the morning. The DOT says to expect occasional closures for avalanche control through the day.
White Pass and Stevens Pass were also closed just after midnight due to avalanches and blizzard conditions. Stevens Pass reopened at noon but White Pass remained closed as of 4 p.m. and was expected to remain closed through the day Thursday.
The National Weather Service reported that 19" of snow fell at Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass between 3 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday morning. Mt. Baker has received 17" and Paradise Ranger Station at Mt. Rainier has picked up 15". Crystal and White Pass totals are not available due to incredible wind speeds making measurement difficult.
How fast were the winds up there, you ask?
At Stevens Pass, wind gusts ranged between 60-70 mph with a peak gust of 71 mph between 2 and 3 a.m. Meanwhile, up at 5,600 feet along the Stevens Pass ski resort, a wind gauge measured a gust of 103 mph, and Mission Ridge at 6,400 feet recorded several gusts over 100 mph, including one of 116 and 114 mph.
Paradise Ranger Station at Mt. Rainier reported gusts of 60-70 mph with a peak gust of 81 mph between 3 and 4 a.m. And White Pass has frequent gusts of 65-75 mph with a peak gust of 89 mph recorded at the 6,000-foot level between midnight and 1 a.m. Other wind gusts of note: Chinook Pass reported a gust to 83 mph while Alpental Ski Resort at Snoqualmie Summit had a gust of 69 mph and Crystal Mountain reached 68 mph.
It was all part of a potent storm that pushed its way through Western Washington Wednesday night, prompting just about every kind of weather imaginable, ranging from heavy rain, lowland snow, strong wind, and yes, even some flooding.
And lo and behold, we even had a few reports of sunshine!
Wind in the lowlands reached speeds of 50-60 mph in spots. Here are some of the highest wind readings from the storm:
Oak Harbor: 58 mph
Seattle (Alki Beach): 56 mph
Hoquiam: 56 mph
Bellingham: 55 mph
Seattle (Sea-Tac): 53 mph
Port Angeles (CG Station @ Ediz Hook): 53 mph
Tacoma: 51 mph
Port Angeles (Fairchild Airport): 44 mph
Everett: 43 mph
Shelton: 40 mph
Friday Harbor: 40 mph
The wind didn't cause too many problems, save for a few power outages in Thurston County. We also had reports of some trees down in Yelm.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was some lowland snow to kick off the storm late Wednesday night. Spots along the coast, southwestern Washington, the Hood Canal and Kitsap County all reported a little bit as some intense precipitation drove the snow level briefly down to the surface.
Snow totals were generally an inch or two at most, but the Port Orchard, Hoodsport, Seabeck and areas just north of Shelton reported as much as 3-4" before the snow stopped after midnight. That forced a few school delays Thursday morning -- mainly in Kitsap and Mason County, while some power outages delayed or closed a few schools in Thurston County.
But for many others, the snow didn't last long as temperatures shot up in a real hurry as some warm wind quickly scoured out what was left of the cold air.
How quickly? Hoquiam was at 35 degrees with 1-2" of snow reported around 7:55 p.m. By 9:55 p.m., it was already up to 46 degrees with wind gusting as high as 40 mph, and by midnight, it was pushing 50 degrees.
Shelton went from 32 to 37 in 62 minutes. Forks rose from 33 to 45 between 8 p.m. and midnight. Port Angeles went from 35-42 in 4 hours.
We're expecting a somewhat calmer day Friday, with just light to moderate rain at times and much calmer winds. Highs will climb a bit to near 50.
But while it'll be calmer down here, there's still plenty more snow coming to the mountains.