Winter storm warning in effect in Cascades, 1-3 feet of snow expected


    Snow at Snoqualmie Pass (KOMO Photo)

    SEATTLE -- Could skiers' and snowboarders' prayers have been answered? With just 9 inches of snow sitting on the ground at Snoqualmie Pass last Thursday and ski lifts still idle, the ski resort held a "Pray for Snow" event Friday night.

    Call it coincidence or divine intervention, but just as those dire forecasts came out about the prospects of a grim mountain snow season surfaced late last week, now the forecast suddenly looks quite promising -- at least in the short term.

    A series of storms are set to sweep through the region this week all the way through at least next weekend, each carrying a heavy dose of mountain snows (and rain and wind for us in the lowlands.)

    One round of snow is already in the books with at least 9 inches of new snow falling at Snoqualmie Pass through early Monday and that will seem like a dusting a week from now. A new storm is heading our way late Monday night into Tuesday.

    A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Tuesday morning until 4 a.m. Wednesday for the mountains above 2,500 feet (which includes all of the passes) for as much as 1-3 FEET of new snow by Tuesday night. It will make pass travel difficult, but will bring a much-needed boost to the ski resorts.

    In the lowlands, it's a rainy and windy storm. A Wind Advisory is in effect for the coast and Northwest Interior (Whatcom/Skagit Counties, Port Townsend area and the Whidbey/Camano/San Juan Island chains) for gusts to 40-50 mph Tuesday. The Advisory begins at midnight Tuesday morning (think 12:01 a.m.) and ends at 10 a.m. along the coast ,and 1 p.m. in the Northwest Interior.

    This isn't quite the right setup for strong winds in the Puget Sound region, but will still be breezy with gusts to 30-40 mph. Oh, and a Flood Watch is in effect for the Skokomish River, which, shouldn't surprise anyone as the flood-prone river is seemingly on a prepetual watch during the rainy season.

    But as mentioned earlier, it's just the start of a stormy week here. Another storm promising rainy and breezy conditions arrives midday Wednesday into Wednesday night, with maybe some wind advisories needed in the same spots again.

    By then, enough snow will have fallen for Stevens Pass to open, which just announced Wednesday as opening day!

    The largest storm of the series is taking aim at us on Friday. This one is challenging because the storm track is farther south instead of central B.C. to where the center of the storm is looking to make landfall somewhere between the northern Oregon and northern Washington coast. Those on the southern side of the storm may see strong winds that could reach potentially damaging levels, or at least power-outage worthy. Those on the north side will see less wind, but could see cold air wrap around the northern side of the storm for some low snow level showers.

    The forecast models have not been consistent yet with a favored storm track, so a wide array of scenarios remain possible. I'd say the windy scenario for Seattle area is more likely so I'd lean toward planning on that route but keep an eye to Friday's forecast. It will bring another round of snow to the mountains.

    Another storm brings rain, breezy winds (not as strong as Friday's potential) and mountain snow again over the weekend, with super long range forecasts hinting at yet another storm possible early next week.

    It should get the ski resorts going in time for Christmas as long range models are giving a rough estimate of about 38-42 inches of new snow by the end of the weekend at Snoqualmie Pass, with higher amounts at the higher elevations.

    Now, despite the big snows this coming week, the seasonal forecasts still suggest higher odds this winter will end up with a below normal snowpack, so perhaps make sure to get out and enjoy this break from the bad snowpack news!

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