Mother Nature's snow machine gives it a rest

Mother Nature's snow machine gives it a rest »Play Video
Sisters Lindsey Olson, left, and Diana Olson stop to look at the Space Needle as they walk up a snow covered hill in the aftermath of a weekend storm Monday, Dec. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
SEATTLE -- Many areas around Western Washington can already measure snow on the ground in feet instead of inches, and the Puget Sound area is getting close to joining the group.

A secondary weather system that slowly dragged across the region at about the same speed a car trying to go up Queen Anne hill dropped another 4-6" of snow across a good portion of the region, including the Puget Sound metro area, with a report of 12" of new snow in Arlington just since midday Sunday. That was on top of the 4-8 inches already on the ground in many places.

As a result, snow depths were approaching a foot in the heavily populated areas. Spotters in Puyallup, Federal Way and Mill Creek say they have between 10-11" on the ground, while farther inland, Duvall reported 23" on the ground and Index had a whopping 35" -- nearly three feet! We've even received one report down in Lewis County near the Cascades of over 40" on the ground.

Here are some reported snow depths as of late Monday morning: (Feel free to submit your snow depths in the commenting section below.)

  • Morton: 40"
  • Index: 35"
  • Olympia (southern outskirts): 27"
  • Duvall: 23"
  • Bow Hill: 20"
  • Marysville: 18"
  • Redmond: 16"
  • Seattle (View Ridge): 13"
  • Edmonds: 12"
  • Parkland: 12"
  • Bonney Lake: 12"
  • Bothell: 11"
  • Mukilteo: 11"
  • Mill Creek: 11"
  • Federal Way : 11"
  • Puyallup: 10"
  • Des Moines: 9"

We do have a few more light snow showers to deal with Monday morning -- especially in Snohomish County where a weak convergence zone is hanging around, and in southwestern Washington which is still getting pelted by occasional snow showers. These areas could see an additional 1-2" of snow by midday, and a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until noon. Outside the area, we're talking mostly dry aside for a few flurries, and then clearing as we get into the afternoon and evening.

Tonight will feature clearing skies, but dropping temperatures once again as some colder air blows in from the north. Temperatures will plunge into the low 20s, giving another hard freeze to the snow on the ground.

Tuesday's daylight hours will give us a chance to catch our breath and for road crews to catch up getting rid of the snow that's here. We'll see partly to mostly cloudy skies, but should be dry with highs in the low-mid 30s.

However, we have one, possibly two more tangles with snow before the week is done, but there is a light at the end of tunnel.

A weak trough of low pressure will slide through late Tuesday evening and into Tuesday night. This will bring scattered hit-and-miss showers that will likely be snow since temperatures will probably cool into the upper 20s. We're not expecting any significant accumulations with these -- maybe 1-2" in isolated spots.

Christmas Eve is a bigger challenge, as a stronger system moves in. 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 -- perhaps an additional 1-3" on top of what's already out there, but then likely changing to rain as the south winds increase and pull in some milder air. But since this storm still has cool origins (unlike Saturday's storm) we don't expect a big warm up. It'll be a tough call for how long it'll snow but all indications most everyone should get into the upper 30s and get some rain -- even Bellingham as they switch to a south wind.

As has been the case these past two weeks, some cooler air will move in behind this system on Christmas Day, but the air won't be quite as cold as it's been. We expect snow levels to hover around 500-1,000 feet as some scattered post-storm showers move through. This puts temperatures right on the cusp of freezing where some areas will get rain, while others a mix or snow, especially on the hilltops and anywhere else above 300-500 feet. Either way, you should have a White Christmas as the snow from this weekend will still be around. Highs will be in the low-mid 30s.

Friday morning starts calm, but another round of moisture moves in during the afternoon. This, once again, could briefly start as snow depending on how cold it is around here, but the change to rain should be much quicker as we get a decent push of mild air and finally appear to punt this arctic air for good.

The long range pattern keeps us cool and quite soggy, but with the jet stream lifting north a touch and sending storms into southern B.C., that will keep us on the milder side and highs should claw their way into the low 40s, meaning all rain for the lowlands. That could make for a slushy mess around the area, but at least we are not looking at any kind of really warm or Pineapple Express storm, which would be the ultimate headache and cause zounds of flooding problems. But as I said -- the storms coming in are still cool enough that snow levels stay below pass level and we don't put much pressure on our rivers. We could see some localized ponding where rain and melting snow try to flow into clogged drains.

But the new snow will stay in the mountains, and after this past week, many might now feel that the mountains are where it belongs.