December 25, 2008

Snowing Again

I sit here, watching large snowflakes fall in the darkness outside my window. This is the last snow day in the lowlands for a while I suspect.

The radar shows the story (see image): moderate to heavy precipitation north of Seattle that is bringing wet snow, with some rain in warm locations near water. Outside my house it is collecting in a slushy layer, but some of the WSDOT cams show accumulation on some roads.

This precipitation is associated with an upper level trough over the region...which will move out later today. You can see the clouds associated with this precipitation on the latest infrared satellite photo (see image)--the roughly east-west band over the northern portion of the state. And there is nice low circulation off northern Oregon. These showers will lessen during the day,

The big change is going to occur later tomorrow and Saturday. The atmosphere is about to radically reorganize itself. For nearly two weeks we have had a large scale configuration with a big ridge (high pressure) over the eastern Pacific and northerly, cold flow moving southward into our area (see figure). But that will change...the flow will become more east-west ("zonal" in the business) and that will bring in much warmer and moister air (see figure). That means a return to our familiar rains late Friday and Saturday. By late Saturday I suspect most roads will again be passable.

Hopefully, the last week has taught us something about future preparations for ice and snow and rational changes will be made in how we deal with it. We narrowly avoided a terrible tragedy, with two buses nearly falling on to I5--clearly there would have been serious injuries and deaths if it had. Anyway, this will be my last editorial on this issue!


  1. Here in Sammamish, 550-580 ft elevation at Demery Hill, the snow is dumping on us. The sanding trucks have gone by and the white stuff has already covered the sand. We have true white snow, but the "squeaky" kind, so I guess that means it's semi-wet.

    My two labradors have each opened their gift. (They got a giant biscuit and the wrapping paper to tear up, both of their Christmas faves. No toys, they have so many already)

    Off to have coffee and start the Christmas turkey. We're staying home, figuring our roads will be too slick today. We'll see other family in town on the weekend.

    Happy holidays whatever holiday you celebrate.

    I am thankful for the City of Sammamish, where the snow plowing and DE-ICING is actually pretty good. It is amazing that they're working today. I hope their pay is huge for the day and that all of their family will celebrate with them soon.

  2. Merry Christmas! Thanks for the glorious huge flakes of snow, Cliff!

  3. Merry Christmas to all. 4" of new snow on the ground in Bothell at about 260 feet. Irvin Berlin would be pleased with our White Christmas as we are.

    My weathercam.

  4. Cliff --
    8:30am --Giant snowflakes here in Lynnwood/Edmonds.

    Regarding beefing up snow removal resources (since you brought it up one last time), I'd rather we put those resources into feeding and sheltering our burgeoning homeless population. We must be our brother's keeper, and, until then, put the money into feeding the hungry and then worry about clearing the streeets.Unless we have snow events like this on a regular basis, we must prioritize.

    Nonetheless, thanks for your thoughts and opinion.

  5. Merry Christmas! Hey Cliff -- when was the last time we had a White Christmas? I remember snow on the ground one year, but never new snow on Christmas Day.


  6. Wow, Cliff, those last two images just by themselves seem to explain everything. Thanks for all your work and the intention to share what you know with the rest of us. PS Don't give up on allowing comments even when sometimes we are quarrelsome--people have been stuck in the house a long time :-)

  7. Sammamish Plateau - 34.2 degrees and snowing lightly after some hard snowfall a short time ago. Probably a 1/2" of new since daylight.

    What a beautiful Christmas morning. And to make it really special my girlfriend gave me Cliff's book. Not just Cliff's book... but an autographed copy of Cliff's book. She heard about it and made a special trip to Ivar's in Mukilteo to see Cliff at his signing. She has been really excited to give it to me especially after seeing how much I have enjoyed reading and participating on this blog.

    I'm excited to read it and learn about weather. I love weather, I track it everyday with my weather station (which she gave me last year for Christmas:) I keep Excelspreadsheets with collected data, I just don't understand all the technical stuff and why weather happens like it does. It sounds like the days ahead are going to be good reading days to get those answers.

    Hope all of you are having great Christmas's as well.

  8. A new dusting of snow in North Hoquiam! Just enough to make it all pretty again.

    Happy Holidays to all and a special thank you to Cliff for this blog.

  9. I'm soooo excited: I got your book for Christmas!!! Thanks for the great blog and KUOW weather reports. You are my WeatherGod!!! Cheers!!

  10. Happy Holidays to all you fellow weather lovers. And thank you Cliff for your daily gift of weather, a small, certain pleasure in my life.

  11. 9:31am Lynnwood/Edmonds --Snow diminishing, flakes getting smaller and smaller, pretty soon we'll be singing "Who'll Stop The Rain!"

  12. Merry Christmas Cliff! It is snowing light, small flakes on the west hill of auburn. 32.8 degrees. Nice to see snow on Christmas day, but I'll be ready for it to go away by Saturday, so thanks for working your magic!

  13. Lakewood/Steilacoom/Back side of N Ft. Lewis

    SUNSHINE!! My bedroom, which faces East, more or less, is flooded. All the snow is off the trees, but the eaves have not started empting.

    Thanks to all of you. Reading this blog has made the whole a lot more entertaining, to say the least.

    Happy Holy Days to all

  14. Merry Christmas! And thank you for this wonderful blog! Up here in the hills of Woodinville (unincorporated KC, above Basset Pond) we woke up to 6 new inches and it is still dumping on us. Total amount on our picnic table = 17". It is a wet snow now, I can hear trees breaking in the woods, and we have no power (YAY! for the generator!) Thanks again for the great blog!

  15. Cliff,

    RE snow and the icy unplowed streets of Seattle. I agree we need a rational plan. I think we have been extremely lucky there has been no big, out-of-control fire in the city. Given the state of the streets, SFD could not have done anything but watch. I, for one, am thoroughly disgusted with SDOT and the lack of political leadership in Seattle.


  16. Thanks for the updates, Cliff! My husband told me about your blog a few days ago and I've really enjoyed reading it since; it was particularly useful when we were trying to find a good time for my parents to safely get here from the peninsula (and they did!).

    --K in View Ridge where the snow, it is falling.

  17. P.S. I want some of Anonymous in Lakewood/Steilacoom/Back side of N Ft. Lewis's sunshine! It's all a white haze over here; we can't even see as far as the lake.

  18. Sunset Hill elev.80
    Around 8:30 I looked across the sound and Suquamish was obscured by a white wall. Temp was 36. Snow was falling on us within 10 minutes. First as rain and snow, then big flakes. By 9:30, we had visibility across the water again. Light rain now and temp is currently 35.

  19. Wow, more snow in Lake Forest Park. One more response on snow removal. Nickels gave Seattle a B on snow response, so I don't see much future change. And for Camco, I think it's hard to help the homeless in these conditions when no-one can get around. Anyway, happy white Christmas!!

  20. RE Rational Snow Plans: I live on the border between Skyway (unincorporated King County) and Seattle. The roads maintained by King County were clear of ice and snow, sadly as soon as you crossed the line into the city of Seattle Renton Ave became extremely treacherous.

    PS: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.

  21. Hey, Cliff.

    We have 5.25" of fresh snow (pretty wet & heavy - bog-standard Cascade Concrete as opposed to the powder we had earlier in the week) and it's still snowing pretty heavily in Woodinville (Hollywood Hill area). I am SO looking forward to the thaw!

  22. yeah woodinville's taking the brunt of this. Looking at 500-1000' visibility @ surface (300') and approx 6" of new accumulation, heavy and wet. And no power. Merry xmas!

  23. Oly, 2 blks SE of State Capitol: skiff of new snow, sun!

  24. Union Mills: 30.9 and partly cloudy. Overnight low 28.1, yesterday's high 35.4.

    I'm hoping, now, that everyone goes out and takes a look at their nearest storm drain. If it's iced over, take a couple whacks the ice with whatever shovel, rake, or implement of destruction you can lay a hand to- getting the water off the road surface will make this evening a whole lot less scary.

  25. Mikey,

    No power here either. Thankfully we have a generator (purchased after the Hanukkah day storm) so we're warm & dry. It's going to be hard to cook Christmas dinner, though!

    Oh, and we're up to 6" now too.

  26. Vaughn Bay, Pierce County: 36.5 deg. F
    No snow overnight, light south wind.

    Snow left is very heavy. My neighbor's carport collapsed under the weight of the snow yesterday.
    Sadly, it was shelter for MY '51 chevy and '50 ford!!

    Seattle streets late last night were pretty awful. I was surprised to see how few sidewalks were shoveled and the side streets were still snow-covered in many areas I saw. The auto shops will be busy selling alignments and shock absorbers for there are huge "speed bumps" of ice on the arterials.

    Giant puddles are forming on the streets, too. 520 bridge drains were impounding water causing dangerous ponding in the right lane.

    Be careful out there

  27. I want to post this comment here, as a response to Cliff' Bottom Line on "Snowing Again":
    "Anyway, this will be my last editorial on this issue!"
    I'll add more on Comments for his Christmas afternoon post.

    My passionate reaction here is:

    Please don't stop- we ALL need your leadership! The following message needs to be expanded and added to Mayor Nickels' "diming" Seattle's performance at 80%, and I'll bet that our Martin Luther King County Exec Ron's read will be "Simsilar" but closer to 50%, from his "Transit Now" perspective that sings in harmony with Cliff's earlier "editorials!"

    So, I think the whole community need to read this message from Cliff:
    "Hopefully, the last week has taught us something about future preparations for ice and snow and rational changes will be made in how we deal with it. We narrowly avoided a terrible tragedy, with two buses nearly falling on to I5--clearly there would have been serious injuries and deaths if it had."

    I'll share more in the Update Comments above.

  28. I agree with the "Hopefully last week has taught us something..." statement of Cliff's. Very important. For those of us transporting elderly and disabled or trying to get them necessary supplies, this has been a nightmare. If you are young and able, it is interesting. If you are not, it is frightening.

  29. Amen about the storm drains. Ate my too big Christmas breakfast and spent a couple of hours cleaning storm drains, the low spot by the curb and chevrons to the low spots so as to make a flowing system (good exercise)......those storm drains that I could find. I encourage the able bodied to do that and clear public stairs. I saw lots of elderly out toddling to get groceries and trying to navigate public stairs and their own and obviously needing help. So do your own and a couple more! More excuse to eat those Christmas cookies and candies you got.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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