December 21, 2008

5 and 9 PM Update

There has been 1-3 inches of additional snow this afternoon, with many large flakes. The origin of this afternoon's snow is a band rotating around an offshore low (see sat pic--you can see the clouds swirling around the low). As clear from the radar..this band is associated with light to moderate precipitation. The band is over western Washington right now and will be moving through by mid-evening. After that there will be a break, followed by additional snowshower bands overnight that will be swing around the low. Total new accumulation today could reach 4-6 inches in some locations.

Not everyone has been getting snow..there has been rain on the coast. Portland has had snow, but rain is falling to the south in Eugene.

Monday will be cool (highs in lower to mid 30s), but generally dry. We should stay with below normal temperatures for several more days. As a result, there is a good chance this will be a white Christmas (a white Chanukah is a sure thing....since it starts tonight!). By the way, a white Christmas only occurs 7% of the time.
...and did I mention there is the potential for more snow this week? In particular, there may be serious accumulations on Wednesday.


  1. Cliff, THANKS! What would you advise people concerning tomorrows commute?

  2. Snow is coming down fast in small flakes, probably about 2 inches since it really got heavy around 3pm. Very little wind, trees have a nice covering of snow.

    About 9 inches total accumulation of snow here at the border of Ballard and Fremont in Seattle (I'm maybe 50ft above sea level). Around 1pm we flirted with a thaw, but this resulted only in icicles forming off my roof (very pretty). As of now, I don't hear any water coming down the gutters. We also got the morning icy rain that formed a crust.

  3. Stay home! :)

    We now have about a foot of snow in the Kingston area. We are close to the water. This is reminding us about the snow storm in 1996. I hope they don't spray down the boat coverings with water again, trying to get the snow off.

  4. Should add that some power outages have occurred in the Olympia area due to falling branches weighed down with snow. I think we have as much as 12-14" on the ground since it all began.

  5. thanks for the update! can't wait to explore the snow some more with our 5 month old!

    still snowing and 27 in Lynnwood.

  6. Had roughly 2 inches in the foothills of Bellingham last night. 1/2" throughout the day with steady light snow fall currently.

  7. Great blog! Adding our snow total for E Woodinville (closer to Duvall) @ ~475 feet elevation. Another 3-4 inches today on top of the 12 inches we already had. Snow measures 15-16 inches on our picnic table.

    What a great snow event! Whole family is having a wonderful time

  8. Excellent blog, thank you Cliff!

    We are in Woodinville, well, a couple of miles out - closer to Duvall but up on top of the ridge, the Lake Tuck area.

    We have 12" of standing snow in the undisturbed areas and 8" of new snow on the railings that the kids cleared off yesterday afternoon. So I'd guess we've had about 16" - 18" all told this week.

    Still coming down, no signs of slowing down at all at this point.

    Here's a photo from a few minutes ago:

  9. Lakewood/Steilacoom/Back end of North Ft. Lewis

    Sleety snow still falling. Over 14" on my deck furniture since this started. The undersnow/ice on the driveway/roadway is melting so there is only the snow pack to consider if you are driving tonight. Tomorrow should be interesting, as my neighborhood hasn't been plowed out at all since this started.

    Enjoy the comments, and thanks for the updates.

  10. Cliff any chance that you can project at least a general feel for the end of the coming week? I'm trying to figure out if I will be able to get back after Christmas.

  11. Still snowing in Sammamish at 29 degrees. Snow is much like last night with very small flakes. Power outages in Bellevue.

  12. We've had an additional 2-3 in here in West Bellevue this afternoon from big, wet flakes. Seemed to almost want to be rain at times but never was. We lost power in the Enatai, Surrey Downs and Woodridge neighborhoods for about 90 min. Nice to have it back on!

  13. Cliff - Any idea when this is all going to melt? There's a lot of weight building up on roofs around here.

  14. Cliff, thanks so much for this blog. 5 hours of snow today and it's still coming down ...
    Does anyone else on this site have experience with ice dams on the eaves? I'm wondering if I should be worried about them now that we've had such a cold, snowy stretch.

  15. West Seattle/Fauntleroy, elevation 140': Snow isn't super heavy, but it sure isn't letting up either. I'm guessing 2" of new since it started late morning. Temp is 32.5 and has varied only 0.3 degree all day. When I went out snowshoeing earlier, the snow was plentiful and wet.

  16. About a foot of snow on the table on my deck, and still snowing here in West Seattle. It feels like it will neve stop!

  17. Snow still falling in downtown Tacoma. Visibility at times drops to a few hundred feet at most. Cars are creeping along 705-N and I-5.

    OK, if life were fair we would have earned an entire summer's worth of 80 degree sunny weather...I mean a real summer, not a 6-week Seattle summer!

  18. It has been snowing hard all day, but our snow is stuck at fourteen inches, I think because the new snow is just weighing down the snow underneath and making it more compacted. Plus this latest snow is a tad more wet. I think if I started with a fresh surface each time I measured, I would have counted a bunch more inches, but I think I prefer to see it all together in one pile, just to see how deep it can possibly get. Hopefully the new snow overnight will be more cold and fluffy, the underneath stuff will solidify more at its current height, and the new stuff will get higher. I'm going for height. Then I will make a giant pile in a shady spot and see if I can make it big enough to last till spring, or at least till the next pineapple express.

  19. Cliff,
    This is the best local weather site I have found and much appreciated. I have put down the TV remote as my brother in Burien turned me on to this site.
    Currently snowing with about a total of 12" at the ranch here located 347 feet abovc sea level in the hills above Kingston.

  20. All things considered, Cliff, GREAT forecast! Nice winter weather without a lot of terrible trappings (i.e widespread power outages; flooding, etc.)

    Thanks for all your hard work, and get some rest!

  21. Sammamish Plateau SE of Sahalee - 29.7 degrees with light snow falling. Today's high was 32.7 at 10:53 am. Pretty much a steady snow all afternoon and evening. Several new inches today. This morning we had drifts against the house and in different places in the yard. It was hard to tell how much actual snow we had last night because none of it stayed in one place with the 26 mph winds.

    Just spotted three racoons trying to high step it across the front yard. It's probably odd for them too. We have suet, peanuts, and sunflower feeders for the birds and they sure have been taking advantage of it all.

    Went out driving today in the Subaru. I drove while my girlfriend did in car video. Had fun! Love storms of all kinds.... especially ones with snow:)

  22. In West Seattle, it's been snowing consistently since 10am. My son put a plastic glass out in the open, where it could collect snow unobstructed. This was at 3:30 p.m.; now at 7:30 p.m. there are 2 inches of snow in the glass.

  23. Last night was amazing. We went for a nighttime snow walk. That fine granular snow was blowing around, swirling in the street lamps. It was quiet except for the wind in the trees above.

    Shoreline snowfall update:
    7:30pm - 2" since this afternoon (that ice crust was useful)
    About 9" total accumulation on our back deck.

  24. When the excitement of all this settles down, I'd love for more information on the types of snow we've seen or usually see and what conditions create them. In our house we use a few terms: thick wet snowman snow, dry powdery sledding snow, fine granular snow.

    I've also heard of people (from Vermont) saying it can be too cold to snow. Is this true and if so, what temperature conditions make it true.

    This is great stuff Cliff. Thanks!

  25. We're creeping up on the 12 inch mark in auburn. Thankfully, the wind has been almost non-existant.

    this has nothing to do with the current storm - but are you familiar with the new orleans meteorologist named nash roberts?

  26. I dug down to the ice crust from last night, and we've had at least 2" in Ballard since (a rough guesstimate). It's been coming down pretty steady all day. It's all so very pretty! And you know it's getting to be some serious snow when the dog doesn't want to go out in it anymore...

  27. You rock! Thanks for sharing a more accurate forcast for those of us out in the boonies (Grays Harbor).

  28. The snow has stopped for the first time all day here in Carnation. Spoke too soon, it started up again. We have about 8 inches of snow total. Hard to believe that means we got off lightly. Watching the Wizard of Oz in front of the fire sipping the Asti Spumante we bought for Christmas! Ahhh, snow days.

  29. I was at the Seahawks game - HUGE snow flakes during the game - largest I can remember - what that's all about?

  30. We had a crust on the snow of about 1 mm thickness sunday A.M. Thanks for explaining the genesis of it; it had me kind of stumped to explain.

    Love your blog, Cliff, and your commentary on Weekday (which I all too rarely actually get to hear, but always enjoy when I do).

    Cliff Mass: "weather forcasts for smart people." You should get T-shirts made or something.

  31. The Seattle Times says that we can expect 3 -6 more inches of snow tonight between Everett and Tacoma. This seems to be more dramatic then Cliff's comments about tonight that imply a light dusting.

    Am I interpreting his comments correctly?

    From Lake City Seattle where it is still snowing like we could get 3" to 6"

  32. West Hill Auburn/ East Federal Way report: The amount of snow we have here is unreal. I cleared off the rail on my deck this am and have gotten four inches since then. On the table on my deck (which has not been cleared since the snow began) I have 10 and 3/4 inches - and I suspect some of that has been compacted. There is a branch on the pine tree in my backyard that is usually about 7 feet off the ground. It's currently so heavy with snow it's about 2 1/2 feet from the ground. We've gone from heavy, large flakes to small, very wet snow. Currently there is a steady stream of small flakes falling from the sky. What is going to happen to our drainage systems when all of this melts? Is our next big story the flooding of the city?

    And how many different cookies can a family make in 3 days?! Top it off with hot chocoalte and bailey's and I see many weeks of long runs in my future trying to get this weight off!

    Thanks to the community for updating with your micro climates. It's so interesting to read!

  33. I'm enjoying and appreciating the blog, Cliff.

    I got your book as a birthday present (from a friend who knows me well!) and I've been enjoying reading it a ton. I think anyone who's reading this comment thread would enjoy it too. Great book, excellent presentation of data, science and theory, great use of graphics and photos, super writing.

  34. Shoreline reporting from 350 feet at 9pm.

    Around 10-12 inches, with more falling.
    The morning was light and dry so we plowed.
    Now more moisture, so we did clear the deck of snow, getting much heavier.
    Roads are solidly covered, but very driveable with winter tires on a subbie..of course.

    Skiing has been excellent on the back road. Reports of one of my sons making tracks down Lynn St in eastlake dst. A small jump was constructed with no physical damage after many uses.

    Didn't bother with clearing the gutters..not enough build up because of wind blowing off.

    Tomorrow drive to everett will be a joy...reminds me of a warmer dec-jan 1968-9 with lots of snow and big drifts.

  35. Here on the west slope of West Seattle, it's been snowing hard since about 11am, nonstop. Given that the snow on the tables on our deck is probably more than a foot deep (and that's on the east side of the house with last night's strong winds, so probably lost some snow then), I'd say we have about 6" of new snow today.

    Gorgeous, I love it! Lots of skiiers in Lincoln Park today - including us.

  36. Where's the 9pm update?

  37. Cliff,

    Thank you for the accurate forecast without all the guesswork of the media weatherfolk.
    As of 9:45PM we've had 4-6" total from Saturday morning(when they cleared the walks) here in Belltown with light snow still falling. Beautiful snow outlined trees and people sledding and boarding on Wall St between 1st and Western.

  38. the 9 pm update is an addition to the end of the 5pm update - just a sentence or so about this coming Wednesday.

  39. Thanks Dan, I missed the addition. Cryptic, as usual, it keeps me eagerly anticipating.

  40. Mt. Baker neighborhood in Seattle-

    11 inches total accumulation of snow on the plastic table left out since summer; no doubt some of that compacted and some blown off.

    I chained up my car for the commute tomorrow; the belly of my Honda Civic now touches the snow piled between the ruts made by wheels.

    The tiny wet flakes melt fast on the windshield. There is wind (maybe from the southeast? I can't tell) for the first time, started several hours ago.

    Perfect skiing; Trumpeter swan family seen earlier swimming in Lake Washington.

  41. Bothell, 300 ft elev:

    3" new snow in the areas I shoveled at 11 am, for a total of 13". Still snowing steadily, but it seems wetter than before.

    I haven't been out of the house since Wednesday, but the good thing is that I'm cleaning the food out of my freezer.

    I'm getting kind of antsy to get back to work, but it won't happen tomorrow I'm afraid.

  42. Happy Solstice to One and All! Perfect weather for a Solstice! We have 4 new inches of snow on the deck in NW Enumclaw! Cleaned the deck at 3pm so there ya go and the snow is still falling. We're around 800ft elevation. I'm so glad it's light fluffy stuff and not freezing rain as the husband works for PSE and wouldn't see him for weeks if otherwise. Count your/our blessings.
    Cliff, listened for YEARs thanks for the blog! Fulfills the weather geek in us.

  43. Phantom Lake/Bellevue at 210' elevation has 6" of new snow today (well, since noon anyway, and it was snowing before then too but that's when I cleared off the deck railing). It's 30.7F here and STILL snowing.

    I don't have to go to work tomorrow since I always work from home but I hope most people don't even attempt Bellevue streets. They were bad enough yesterday afternoon when we came home from Crossroads and the grocery store (1.6 miles away) and since then we've had about 8" of snow and 1/3" of ice added during a brief spell above freezing this morning.

    Cliff, any guess when we'll melt down to bare ground again? What I've seen makes it look like there could be some thawing in the afternoons, but the overnight temps make refreeze the obvious risk. It looks like the long-range is calling for balmy 40s and rain next weekend... would you agree with that based on what you're seeing? I have to admit, 42 and rain sounds really, really lovely.

  44. On Bainbridge: Total on our deck now is nearly 10" First major power outage hit the island around 6 pm, got the Safeway complex and the neighbors up the street, but not us. Cable's out though. Thanks heavens we're still running a DSL line this month!

    I love the way the trees look at night in the snow! Just gorgeous.

  45. Hmmmmm, just looked at the NWS forecast for this week, looks like the snow may all wash away on Wednesday night/Thursday?! I guess it depends on how reliable the 36* high is.

  46. Snowing steady since neoon on the west hill of Kent, just below I-5. We can get out with chains, and took some stranded friends home to Tacoma from the airport (they are tring to get to Phoenix). Since my 'rents from Minnesota probably won't get here, we'll have the Tpcoma friends here instead.

    Didn't the game just look like Green Bay? - snow, Farve, Holmgren etc...

  47. So who is going to work tomorrow? I'm scared to drive in this weather!

  48. Nobody I know is going to work. Too dangerous to venture out.

  49. Out here on the Key Peninsula, where no weather forecaster ever mentions, we have had snow steady all day. Here near the beach, the tree branches are very heavy with snow. Branches have bent down to the point of blocking our 1/4 mile driveway at several places. Hopefully they won't break off overnight.

    The power went off here for 4 hours this PM. A branch took out a line just up the road. The Power Co. truck got stuck on the road and required a big tow truck to free it.

    The snow is heavy. A shovel full is about 35 lbs. and so I took all the snow from our 2nd story deck as a precaution. The wet snow full of rain would be a disaster waiting to happen. Its 33 deg. F.

    Thankfully we have a good woodstove with ample dry wood. But we have been going through it a pretty steady pace this past week. I guess it makes up for the very mild November.

    Our accumulation since yesterday exceeds 10" now. The road into our place is deeper and has not been plowed, so there is no way to get the car out even with chains. Tomorrow will be a lot of interesting outdoor work!

    Everybody be safe.

  50. By the time you get to work, if you get to work, it will be time to go home. You've never had a better excuse to ditch work Go for it, stay home and enjoy the peace.

  51. Nice mention on the front page of, Cliff...

    Thanks for the great blog. You've given all of us junkies who just got over a new addiction.

  52. If you work for the federal government in the Seattle area, you don't have to go into work on Monday, per the Seattle Federal Executive Board's announcement Sunday night.

    Wish we could get a heads-up on whether garbage & recycling will be picked up on Monday in LFP. I'd hate to drag my bins up the driveway through the snow, only to drag them back down again still full if the trucks don't make it.

  53. Look at that satellite photo!

    That big tail from the Bering Sea is headed this way!

    Here's my prediction: much more of the beautiful white stuff. Seeing an animation would give us a good idea of when it's going to get here.

    The biggest advances in Meteorology have come through data collection, most importantly, satellite photos.

    The so-called models that try to analyze the data are still, at best, primitive and leave a lot to be desired. Eye-balling pictures is often more accurate.

    BTW, can we move the local weather reports to another area? They might be useful, but they shouldn't be mixed with discussion. Do we really want to read hundreds of messages a day about 2 or 3 inches of snow in various places?

  54. Report from Sammamish: 12:32AM Light snow, 28.5 degrees. On top of the paper thin layer of freezing rain is about 5 inches of snow, underneath the freezing rain layer is 5 or 6 inches. At least a foot on the ground, the wind event last night and the blowing snow really causes amounts to vary between 10 and 18 inches on the ground. I haven't seen anything like this since the 1996 storm. I am in awe of the power of mother nature! Great blog Cliff!

  55. About four inches of new snow today in Union Mills, and 27.9F at the moment; today's high was 31F. Still, cold, and dim all day; made photographing the quail that came to eat under the feeder rather tricky. Never had a solstice I was more glad to have behind me.

  56. UW suspends operations on all campuses tomorrow. Darn, Cliff won't be at work! haha

  57. Here's the article that mentions Cliff's predictions, and has reasonably good coverage of the weather we're having too:

    I'm glad to have been one of the people who asked about the very different kind of snowflake that we got Saturday night. :-)

    To anonymous who wants everyone's precip and temperature reports separated from "the discussion" -- as if there's really a difference -- you're missing the point. We love to hear from Cliff and to think about what's happening but part of what's happening is represented by all those regional reports. I for one am glad to read them... they are really interesting.

    Still snowing big flakes in Bellevue, by the way; it's been snowing continually since about 11 am Sunday and I wouldn't be shocked if we're one of the local areas that picked up 6-8" yesterday.

    Happy days-getting-longer! It's been a very different kind of solstice, to be sure.

  58. From Bothell at 1 AM: My husband measured 9.5" in our back yard at 8 PM, and I see at least two inches of snow in his footprints looking out the back. It is still snowing large fat flakes here.

    This site is like fivethirtyeight but for weather. I love it. Thanks, Cliff.

  59. Shoveled the walk at about 6 pm in Duvall and we have 3 more inches. About 2 feet total on the ground. Weird that Carnation got so much less.

  60. NOAA has a Winter Weather Basics Web site that answers many common questions about that topic.

    For more information about snow, see All About Snow at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

  61. Hi, folks,

    I just posted Comment 122 on the comment list for Cliff's Dec 21 morning report, asking if anyone had seen a longer comment I'd tried to post between 3 and 4 pm there and can't now see. Since many of you may not look back at that set of comments, I'm posting this here to ask you to look at that one and respond either by comment or by email if you can offer any help.


    Bob Moore (Lake Forest Park Tree Addict.)

  62. Thanks for the frequent and in-depth weather reports. SO helpful! Now, if I could decide whether to risk traveling down to Eugene from Seattle on Tuesday....

    FYI, I just received notice from Amazon that the copies of your book that I ordered weeks ago as holiday gifts may not be delivered until FEBRUARY. So much for the reprinting to have a "large supply available before the holidays." Grrr.

  63. Bob,

    I can see your comment at the end of that thread (#122) which summarizes your earlier comments, but I never saw the original one (and I was on and reading around then, so who knows). Maybe your original post was too long?

    I cleaned snow off our camelias and my 2nd year oak-leaf hydrangea last night. The snow weight was significant, especially with that layer of ice they got yesterday morning.

    The real lengthy specifics, the kind Cliff needs but that are too long for the blog comments, maybe should be emailed directly to Cliff? Just a thought. :-)

  64. Bob, I never saw your original comment, either. There are all kinds of reasons why a message might fail to post, sadly. We may never know exactly what happened to your message, which sounds like it was awfully interesting. Given how many comments have been posted in the last 24 hours, it may just have been system overload at blogspot.

    Care to recap in more detail?

    About rescuing plants by removing the snow--that's a fine idea, but not if there's freezing rain coming. Having grown up in the stuff, we found that plants survive freezing rain better if there's an insulating/cushioning blanket of snow over them to protect them. If you do clean off a plant and then experience freezing rain, you can protect the plants by laying blankets or plastic sheets (both on some sort of frame) over them. When I lived in New Hampshire, I used to keep an old flannel sheet available to cover whatever needed to be protected. It made cleaning the car off a snap, lol.

    Lyn in Lynnwood (who is running out of books--wonder if the library will be open today?)


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