Just as the region began digging out from Saturday night's widespread snow, a second storm formed off the coast and blew into the area, bringing another round of steady moderate to heavy snow that added another 3-8 inches on top of what already fell overnight Saturday.
A WINTER STORM WARNING expired at 4 a.m. Monday for the greater Puget Sound and Hood Canal area but continued until 4 p.m. for the southwest interior. Scattered snow flurries continued in many areas Monday morning, including Tacoma.
The system came right on the heels of Saturday night's storm, where heavy snow and strong winds made whiteout conditions in many areas. In the mountains, the dangerous weather forced the DOT to shut down I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass late Saturday evening. It remained closed until noon Sunday when the wind abated enough to reopen the highway.
Snow continued falling in the mountains Monday.
The snow and wind has caused several travel challenges across the region. Snow covered roads and treacherous driving conditions were reported across the region, worsened by the coating of ice from freezing rain. Seattle streets were littered with spun out cars. Sea-Tac Airport reported hundreds of flight delays and cancellations, while Amtrak canceled service to Seattle.
Metro and Community Transit are reporting limited service for Monday, with Metro operating only about half its normal bus schedule.
Blizzard conditions were reported Saturday night in Enumclaw, where wind gusts as high as 75 mph combined with snow to make for near whiteout conditions and heavy snow drifts. Over in the tiny foothill town of Cumberland, an unofficial gust of 100 mph was recorded, knocking a large tree over onto a main road that just missed the town's fire station. Snoqualmie reported a gust of 61 mph, Buckley hit 60 and North Bend had a gust of 57 mph.
The North Coast also reported blizzard conditions overnight with wind gusts to 55 mph combining with a foot of snow to make 4-5 foot drifts around Clallam Bay.
In the lowlands, heavy snow and ice topped by more snow were the main headaches.
Where do we go from here?
There may be some lingering snow showers early Monday, but they should taper off by noon. Highs will stay in the low-mid 30s.
A partially clear and calm night Monday, but that will allow temperatures to drop well below freezing -- about 22-26 for lows.
Tuesday will see a weak system pass by offshore, tossing a few showers our way that may be snow again, but they would be light and very hit-and-miss. Nothing significant expected. Highs will be in the mid 30s.
It now looks like another moderate storm will move in on Christmas Eve. This storm is coming out of the north as most others have recently, but is expected to turn inland much farther north -- around southern B.C. That could make for some breezy south winds -- not major but noticeable. Precipitation would likely start as snow, then probably start changing to rain as the south winds increase. But since this storm still has cool origins (unlike Saturday's storm) we don't expect a big warm up. So this will be a tough call for how long it'll snow.
Initial bets would be to get some sort of widespread transition to rain since the arctic air isn't as deep this time around, but then perhaps a change back to snow again as northerly winds return in the storm's wake. (No east wind this time, since the storm is not coming from the due west.) That's quite the messy, complicated forecast, so it'll likely change, but could be another challenging day. We'll try and peg any snow accumulations as we get closer as there's too much uncertainty now.
Christmas Day looks fairly calm, with just a few isolated showers that might be snow or rain, but nothing major. Highs will stay in the mid 30s.
What might finally be the kicker to punt the cold air for good comes in on Friday, as another storm rolls in. This again might start as snow, depending on how these earlier systems shake out, but it looks like this one will be more determined to get some warm air in here and change it to rain.
And for next weekend, it's.....rain! Highs in the 40s even! Long range forecasts advertise a change to more of a wet and blustery pattern for the first week of 2009 -- actually a good pattern for mountain snow but lowland rain. I think even the snow fans will take it :)
Conditions were much worse in Portland, where heavy snow combined with strong winds and a major ice storm.
I-84 was closed through the Columbia Gorge and into Portland, while chains were required to drive on any state highway in the Portland area.
Several flights were canceled in at Portland International Airport and more snow and ice was in the forecast for them today. You can find more from our sister station KATU.
More snow fell in Eastern Washington as well, dropping as much as 9-18" of new snow across the area.
Overall, travel across the entire Pacific Northwest will be incredibly difficult this weekend, and should be put off until Monday or Tuesday if possible.