Winter Weather
5:39 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Lowland snow forecast: less than earlier prediction

Updated 3:58 p.m., Mon., Jan. 10th

The latest weather foreceast shows much less snow may fall than had been predicted, and warmer temperatures will bring rain and wind on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service office in Seattle has eased off forecasts of larger amounts of snow for western Washington, as the latest models show warm air pushing in faster than expected. 

“We feel pretty confident the system will stay on the warmer side, and we will not see large amounts of snowfall” in the lowlands of western Washington, says Dennis D'Amico of the NWS Seattle office.

 

Evening commute ... and mountain passes

The snow around Puget Sound is likely to start between 5pm and 7pm on Tuesday, at the end of the evening commute. Up to three inches is in the forecast for most of the region -- with slightly more falling in the Mt. Vernon and Bellingham areas. 

The mountain passes could get 1-3 feet of snow. 

Accumulations are expected to melt fairly quickly, though, as Wednesday will bring rising temperatures.  D'Amico says it's still too early to say precisely if the snow will be gone in time for the Wednesday morning commute.  By afternoon, temperatures in Seattle should be in the 40's.

The Washington Department of Transportation is suggesting people plan to stagger their commute times tomorrow afternoon – so everyone doesn’t leave work at once, when the first snowflake falls.  Last time there was an afternoon snowstorm, commuters in the Seattle area found themselves stuck for hours in gridlock.

University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass cautions in his blog:

Bottom line: most of you will see snow, but the huge event suggested few days ago appears much more unlikely. Also, be VERY careful when looking at forecasts more than 3-4 days out, particularly events where the exact location of weather features are critical.

Mass updated his forecast Monday afternoon, essentially agreeing with the latest Weather Service forecast.  He mentions to expect very heavy winds along the coast.

Over the weekend, some areas of Snohomish County north of Everett received up to 6 inches of snow, according to The Herald newspaper.