Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Major Snowstorm Will Hit the Region Starting Late Friday

The weather forecast models are now pretty much on the same page for the next snow event and confidence in the forecast is quite high:   there is going to be a major snow event over much of the Pacific Northwest starting late Friday and continuing into the weekend.

A much larger snow event than occurred on Sunday night/Monday morning of this week.  And one in which snow will be falling on a surface that is now cooled substantially.

I have studied Northwest snowstorms for years and even co-authored a paper on the subject.  What is forecast to occur late Friday and this weekend is absolutely classic.

I will start by showing you the latest forecast of the UW high-resolution weather modeling system.   The 24-h accumulation ending 4 PM Friday shows the snow moving into the northern portion of Washington, with heavy snow already falling in southern BC (see below).  In the Puget Sound region you MAY be able to get home before the real action hits.


The snowfall over the next 24hr is extraordinary, with up to 8 inches over Puget Sound and over a foot on the northern side of the Olympics.


The set-up for this snow event is nearly perfect, with a low center near the SW tip of WA State and very cold air over British Columbia.  The reason why this is the "perfect" snowstorm situation is that the low center draws cold air into western WA from BC (a lot of it through the Fraser River Valley), while pushing moist air overhead.  A veritable snow machine.


The UW model is driven by the U.S. GFS model on its boundaries.  The ensemble forecasts of Seattle snow from many GFS runs is shown below.   All the runs are going for snow, with an average of around 3.5 inches.   Most the ensemble members are relatively low resolution.  The higher resolution member of the ensemble (blue line) is going for about 7.5 inches.

What does the highly respected European Center Model predict?  For the 24-h ending 4 AM Friday, very little over WA State.

But by 4 AM Saturday, most of western WA is snowbound with around 4 inches over Seattle and more to the east.

 The snow continues into Sunday morning, particularly over Oregon.  Roughly a half-foot over Seattle

But I fear to tell you what the EC model predicts next.  There is a second snow event on Monday/early Tuesday that doubles the snowfall in some locations.   The accumulated snow through the weekend ending 4 AM Tuesday is shown below.  We are talking over a foot of snow in central Puget Sound.  Two feet in some of the foothills locations. Unbelievable.

 And even more by Wednesday morning (see below). Snow apocalypse.  One of greatest snow events in decades.   And yes, there is a lot of uncertainty for the second event.

How confident are we in the ECMWF forecast?  Well, lets check their large (51 member ensemble of forecasts, each slightly different) for accumulated snowfall at Sea Tac--see below, top panel. Nearly all of the forecasts are going for 4-6 inches before Saturday is over...some more. But what about the second storm? Roughly 2/3rds of the forecasts are going for a large event (reddish colors-means around a foot of snow). The bottom panel shows the ensemble mean..ends up around 8 inches and their high resolution (deterministic) run...ending up with around twenty inches by the the middle of next week. Yes, we could end up with one of the forecast busts...but every run gets something significant.


The bottom line:  the late Friday/early Saturday event will bring major snowfall to the lowlands, with more accumulation than the last event.  Confidence is high based on both NOAA/NWS and European Center ensembles.   Both modeling systems are suggesting a second event starting on Monday, with the European Center going for a huge snow dump.  Confidence is less because there are differences in the model solutions for that period.  

SDOT, WSDOT, and other local department's of transportation need to get prepared for perhaps the snowiest period since the large snowfall of December 1996, when Seattle received 21 inches.  And yes, you might stock up on food before noon on Friday.  I certainly am.







148 comments:

  1. Wow! Super interesting snow forecast. I can hardly believe we could have so much snow in Seattle by next week. If so, my dog will certainly love it--snow man city.

    Thanks for letting us know in advance, Cliff. I'll check in for an update about next week.

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    1. Lol should be, in Missouri

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    2. yep and you all can act like you live in atlanta

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    3. Yes Missouri gets this every year I moved to Vancouver must be following me from Missouri lol

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  2. Awesome, this means my mom is going to make me shovel all the snow off her carport for like a week straight.

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  3. Wow. This will probably be the largest snow event I've seen in my 25 years in the region. Cliff, is there a comparable event in the past that you are aware of?

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    1. Not Cliff, but I was living on Queen Anne during the infamous winter of 90-92 when there were 6-foot snowdrifts on Queen Anne (& several other places); nothing moved for nearly a week. Me, I enjoyed it - it was winter, it was cold, & there was LOTS of snow. 😏

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    2. Maybe winter of 2008/early 2009

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    3. Winter ‘96 snowstorm gave us three feet in Everett, and almost as much in Seattle. Nothing moved for days and my dad had to walk several miles to get groceries. I’ll never forget that storm!

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    4. In the early 90's, perhaps the one that Pico mentioned, we lost power in Greenwood - a rare occurrence here. We cooked hotdogs over the fire in our fireplace. The 96 event was huge, as well. It happened over the Christmas holidays. My in-laws were in town, staying in my Dad's old condo. We x-country skied up to them with supplies from Safeway!

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  4. What is your estimate for the south sound--Olympia? NOAA is forecasting little or no accumulation through Friday night and 1-2 inches possible on Saturday. Unfortunately my old eyes cannot read the graphs you provide. Does the NOAA information and what is displays on the graphs/pictures you provide agree?

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    1. https://weather.com/weather/alerts/localalerts/l/98576:4:US?phenomena=TSL&significance=S&areaid=WAZ504&office=KSEW&etn=0000

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  5. Hi, Cliff. I just moved from Seattle to Wenatchee (after 10+ years) & am wishing I would have held out a bit longer. This is going to be so fun! Thanks for always being the best - I refer everyone I know to your blog. Now go get some groceries! - britt

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  6. Great post, comes in frozen in the lowlands leaves wet, Feb white can lead to urban flood challenges post frozen, will be fun to watch with aloha!

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  7. One storm at a time....that’s my motto. Next week looks very suspect. So does the Euro predict all snow as if it’s a 10 to 1 ratio!?! The temperature at which snow falls plays just as big as a role as quantity of precipitation. In Yakima this past week we got 10 inches with less than .5 inches of precipitation. A 20 to 1 ratio, maybe more. That’s why I think all models are actually underestimating snowfall this time.

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    1. Unusually dry powdery snow, I noticed, my dog was disappointed with the lack of snowball fetch.

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  8. I a interested to see how this all pans out. I love snow and I hope the second event occurs and is the real deal.

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  9. Not exactly an El Nino pattern...but I will take it as a lover of "Arctic Pushes"!!

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    1. El Nino could mean anything for us I have learned through experience and research. The convergence zone for the El Niño/La Niña sits right around the American/Canadian border. Which side we end up on depends on which weather front is stronger. With the Polar Vortex doing it's thing it looks like the convergence zone was knocked south of us, landing us on the cold side with the precipitation making its way up.

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  10. Will the southwest coast get snow out if this Cliff?

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  11. I was just telling my kids about the foot of snow we had at Christmas of 2008 but they were too little then to really remember it. I can't imagine how excited they'd be with a foot of snow now...and me too!

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  12. Cliff - any insight into winds for these storms, particularly the first one? This last storm had some isolated(?) areas of high winds. Are the models suggesting blizzard and/or windstorm conditions?

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  13. Oh my. Any thoughts on wind speeds for this storm, especially compared to the one on Sunday? I am headed to Orcas Island, and I know they had quite a bit of damage Sunday with trees down from the wind.

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  14. Relevant for some of the long time PNW natives... ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM0Jynoflzo

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  15. Ewwww.... Fun times to come for sure!

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  16. Will be interesting if the second and third events next pan out early next week. As Cliff and the NWS Seattle office have noted, there is a lot of uncertainty beyond the next 48-72 hours.

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  17. Dec'96 was an warm air overunning over cold event:heavy wet snow followed by heavy rain and subsequent structural damage from heavy weight loads.This upcoming event appears to be more similar to late January 1969,which culminated in a 20"snowfall at Sea-Tac at months end.

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  18. You should do a weather briefing on a YOUTUBE video Cliff...

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  19. I'm having a really really hard time understanding why you are so confident about this snow storm when only a few days ago you had similar confidence about lack of impacting snow storm for sunday night/monday's storm, where you completely underpredicted snowfall amounts.

    But, why is that 48 hours out, you are so confident about this next one?

    The previous snow storm sunday night/monday morning brought somewhere between 2x and 4x the predicted snow amounts. Even less than 12 hours before that storm you wrote the words,...

    "I suspect the main roadways will be fine tomorrow morning as long as the air temperatures remain above the mid to lower 20s...and they will."

    Which obviously was exact opposite of what happened.

    Even when you finished considering all the forecast models, you ended your blog post, 12 hours before the storm, with this,....

    "Snow amounts will vary greatly, but generally will be light. Seattle will get perhaps .5 to 1 inch of snowfall, but accumulation will be hampered by our generally warm roadway surfaces. But don't be shocked if central Puget Sound gets very little or a bit more....there is substantial uncertainty in this kind of forecast. "



    But how about 24 hours prior to last snow storm?

    " And some lowland snow is likely Monday morning....but no more than a few inches. "

    And how about 48 hours prior to last snow storm?

    "The ensemble forecasts are all over the place, with some predicting no snow over Seattle. "
    and...
    "The snow threat for Puget Sound is increasing, with the potential for a few inches around Puget Sound early on Monday."

    And yet, here we are, 48 hours away from a potential next snow storm and we are getting statements like this,

    "A Major Snowstorm Will Hit the Region Starting Late Friday"
    and
    "the late Friday/early Saturday event will bring major snowfall to the lowlands, with more accumulation than the last event."



    So I really want to know why this time you are so confident about the forecast/weather models so far ahead of time when you had similar confidence last time that didn't pan out?

    And I wouldn't be such a skeptic if this wasn't a common thing, year after year, decade after decade.


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    1. That is exactly what it was like in Kitsap county. He was right on.

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    2. To the skeptic a couple comments ago: no matter what happens with the snow forecast this weekend, it doesn't hurt to be prepared for a big event! I looked at the EC predictions before the snow event on Monday, and decided to put some extra weight in back of my Jeep. I'm glad I did, because I-5 from Federal Way north resembled I-90 around Denny Creek Monday at 3am!

      I love snow more than I can say, and am giddy at the prospect of a major snow storm, but realize after living in Western Washington for 40+ years that we may not get as much as I would like.

      I think sometimes forecasters overestimate snow totals and wind speeds to cover their butts if the actual storm ends up being stronger: there's a BIG difference between gusts to 40, and gusts to 60mph!

      It's really hard to forecast here andI think Cliff Mass does a decent job forecasting as well as explaining the science behind his forecasts.

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    3. Because it's called a weather PREDICTION? Because they are patterns but are ultimately likely to continue to change indefinitely?

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  20. Looks like GFS is turning more toward the Euro for next week's snow, incredible...

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  21. Any idea regarding ice concerns? Will we likely see lots of fallen power lines?

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  22. As an armchair meteorologist/ski bum I have noticed that these low elevation snow events seem to suck the moisture out of the systems leaving the upper, colder elevations robbed of the cold dry powder we hope for. Last week North Bend got 10 inches, Snoqualmie pass got 2. Should I expect this system to be any different?

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  23. Milk and bread are about to become an endangered species....

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  24. Sounds like old times. Remember a school closure because of 18 inches in Olympia. January used to always have a very cold, dry spell. Remember school buses could not run on frozen roads - would cause damage!

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  25. I love our winter weather up here in Whatcom County and wouldn't trade it for the milder conditions typically encountered south of the Chuckanuts, but in this case I must admit that the indicator on my enviometer is hovering near the top of the scale. This forecast reminds me of the events of December 2008 except with all the snow which dumped up here shunted south. At that time I lived in Sudden Valley, along the west shore of Lake Whatcom, and by the time all was said and done I measured a level accumulation of 22" in my front yard. It's been quite chilly up here recently with ice floes covering the Nooksack yesterday and temperatures finally rising above freezing this afternoon for the first time since last Sunday and it certainly looks to remain cold. But little in the way of frozen precipitation, unfortunately. Hopefully, I won't have to sit and watch, high and dry, as more southerly locations experience all the fun!

    Caveat: I have access to, and know how to use, a vehicle which is capable of navigating snow and ice covered roadways as well as the ability to keep my home toasty warm in even the coldest weather if the power goes out.

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    1. We have massive hills here in the city of Seattle. 3 inches of snow turned to a sheet of black ice on my hill. I had to put on my hiking gear with my ice trekkers to get around. It cripples the city fast. I did have fun one year in the early 2000's where one of the biggest hills in the Queen Anne area became a huge sledding area. Otherwise, snow really sucks here.

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  26. This certainly sounds intense. I'm curious -- if you could jump ahead to say Saturday evening and imagine that there's no snow on the ground, or only a very little -- what could have changed the predicted outcome? I remember "snow shadows" in the past that have spared the Seattle area. Any possible effects that the models aren't seeing that could change up this scenario to be a snow-dud instead of Snowmageddon?

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  27. Dec. 1996 is still pretty fresh in my memory. 25 inches of mostly wet snow. Covered a large doghouse with my dog inside. Took down the overhead structure at Edmonds Marina and sank a number of boats. That's two wet feet of snow and also rain that followed immediately. Lots of weight! This time around what snow we get will freeze so this is bound to be very different and much less slushy. Perhaps more dangerous to drive in on the side streets. I'm near Langley on Whidbey and our dog is going to LOVE this!

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  28. In response to Unknown's question: it's not quite the 30+ inches of January 1969, but it will certainly be reminiscent of it. I was eight years old at the time and thought every winter was going to be like that - it also was preceded by a 10-day freeze. At the time I lived on the east side of Lake Washington, so we may have had even more snow.

    I found a list of historic Seattle snowstorms on Accuweather from a few years back that somewhat confirms what I remember - a higher frequency of these types of events when I was younger. There were 10 storms of 10 inches or more between 1965 and 1974. Thanksgiving 1985 had a 1-2 punch that was pretty good with a combined 17 inches, and it seems that this may be of that scale.

    Timing of the events can have a big event as well. I remember the December 18, 1990 storm rolling in around commute time and it ultimately snarled and closed both bridges across Lake Washington so I never made it home to Montlake. I managed to make it 13 miles from Redmond (where I was working) to my parents' house on the east side in 6.5 hours. If this kind of mess happens again, I'm sure we'll hear all about it.

    Regardless, if we get a foot and a half, I'd be concerned about snow load on some older structures around here, especially if there's any gutter glaciation and rain on top.

    Enjoy, everyone - and be safe.

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  29. What are your thoughts about Bellingham? Most I've read mentions Seattle-area but not much about up here. Thanks for the info!

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  30. Interesting forecast, and very different from NWS, they say the storm will hit from the Rockies and eastward.

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  31. What of the potential for east winds to dry the atmosphere out? I noticed the lower amounts in the foothills. Is it possible it'll be a non-event for the eastside?

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  32. Wow! I was beginning to think this sort of thing was all in the past here...

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  33. How does this compare to the snow we got at the end of December 2008?

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  34. I just read the NOAA 3pm update for 6 February and, I might be wrong but this storm doesn't appear to be a slam dunk whopper. I mean no special weather statement that a potentially major s ow event possible. I would think that by now they have enough info to at least post the special weather statement so people will take it a bit more serious. I know the news outlets are getting the word out BUT a nudge by NOAA might e warranted now.

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  35. I just took a look at Portland and they have the special weather statement. Just curious is all...with this "potential major event" more emphasis I would think be warranted.

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  36. I loooove snow. I love having the neighbors over for cocoa, playing board games, reading books. I love snowy walks around the neighborhood. I love making snow angels (and I'm 49 years old!).

    But I have Michelle Obama tix for Friday night in Tacoma, and she is my hero, and I reallllly want to go.

    What are the odds I can drive home from Tacoma to West Seattle on Friday night at about 10:30pm without endangering myself?!

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    1. We sold our tickets, it sounds like Seattle could be under a blanket of snow by early evening Friday :( Im curious to see if they will cancel/postpone due to weather....

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  37. Hi What about wind and things that end to cut the electricity for days - if the snowfall doesnt? and lag times for fixing them because of the snow? fallen trees? Wind reports for these various days event?

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  38. I've been using your blog as warnings for my renters back in Issaquah and they are very appreciative! (now I'm teaching them how to use an RSS reader themselves...)

    And thanks for zooming maps out to include us ex-pats down here in central Oregon!

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  39. This will def be the year of the 'El Nina' hehe.

    Perhaps we can thank the sudden stratospheric warming that ocurred a few week ago to shake up the AO and PNA so that the bottled up cold air could infiltrate our area and setup a Dec 1996/Dec 2008 like pattern...interesting how both of those years (like this year) - are all in solar minimums.

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  40. any sort of prediction how seatac will be impacted. I'm supposed to leave town tomorrow and back Sunday morning. Can I get home?

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  41. I sure hope we get close or more than the '96 storm. The 2008 storm was pretty awesome as well. I remember the storm of '84 and '89/'90...can't wait to wade through snow to get to my Subaru!

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  42. Question - we plan to drive up from California to Seattle this weekend. Now it sounds like a terrible idea but we are moving. Any advice?

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    1. Don't do it sounds about the best advice. If you can hold doing it, please do so. It's not only the snow, but the INCREDIBLY icy conditions + pretty steep roads.

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    2. Find the Ballard district. We have dozens of bars and restaurants to keep you warm. I’ve been here since ‘83.

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    3. Prepare to be unable to traverse the neighborhood roads and don't exoexp the city to adequately plan.

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  43. Thanks for the warning. I'm on my way to stock up on cat litter, toilet paper and food.

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  44. Wow, NWS calling for just 2-3 inches total for Seattle. OK then.

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    1. This area simply defies the standard prediction models due to the very unique topography. This storm is basically anyone's guess at this point. I'm gonna gamble and say this will turn out to be a little less than the Sunday night snow dump

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  45. The poor Bow weather-reporting rock is really in for it. I may take pity and put it indoors for the duration!!!

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  46. NWS being very conservative this afternoon, saying 2-3 inches for Seattle and 3-4 inches across most of the lowlands. They are really stressing the easterly winds cutting down totals I5 eastward...sure this is possible but why aren’t the models showing this as they usually would.
    I don’t buy it. We shall see.

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  47. It's me, the non-scientist. Could someone direct me to a site that shows full historical data of Seattle weather. I found some that only had partial information. Thanking you in advance.

    And thanks Cliff.

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  48. What was the European Center prediction for this last snowfall? All the local forecasts predicted 1-3 inches, many areas got more than 6...

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    1. ECM was the outlier on the last storm going for higher snow amounts. One data point does a pattern not make, but in general the ECM has been better at predicting extended forecasts. The HHRF models at the UW are exceptional at predicting short term weather patterns, but they aren't really useful until about 24 hrs out. I'm sure Cliff will be back with a Thursday afternoon/evening update that we should all read carefully.

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  49. Do you think California will get any snow like Oregon? Thank you Cliff

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  50. yeah, i'll believe it when i see it. this is also really centered around seattle, so i doubt we'll see anything in whatcom county

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  51. Any idea how the eastern part of the state will get hit? Moved to Richland 5 years ago from Seattle and curious how much of this will be coming this far.

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    1. This sounds like the Dec. 18, 1990 massive snowstorm.

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    2. I was in 6th grade then, and we lost power for over a week. must have had a foot of snow, with a layer of ice on top. Fortunately we had a wood stove :)

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    3. I remember that day, too. It took me 3 hours to drive from 4th and Pine downtown to I-5. Just as you describe, it was a mess.

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    4. In 2008, I had my youngest child. The snow started when he was 4 days old, in December. It didn't stop until March. That's not to say that it snowed the entire time, but it snowed a few times and didn't melt during that period. I didn't see the ground again until April. That was in Port Orchard, on the other side of the Puget sound. I also remember 1996, when I was a kid in Bremerton. I've always been tall. I stopped growing when I was 12 and I'm 5'9". That year, I was about 5'6" and the snow went up to my hips. That was in Bremerton. I've seen a few crazy winters, here.

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  53. Wowzer Doc! Thanks for the preview of an exciting weekend.

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  54. We drove back from Vancouver in that 1996 storm in our Honda Civic with a new baby and a 6 year old. We'd flown in from Toronto and had no idea what we were getting into. Whatcom county was in total white out. We missed the last ferry by a minute and slept under the terminal. The island was a mess trees and power lines down. We walked through thigh snow to get to our house and miraculously we had power! Cocoa never tasted better

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  55. What about wind with these systems? The last obe was a bumpy ride at Shilshole!

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  56. great post! What about more details about Portland? Equal, more than, or less than Seattle? Thx

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  57. The dry cold high and the wet warm low getting ready to TANGO!

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  58. Fascinating historical accounts. I moved out in fall of 97 and everybody was talking about the 96 snow event.

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  59. TV personalities and government agencies are playing this one close to the chest to prevent panic and resource problems. The European models are astonishing, be prepared because what we are being told by the broader meteorological community counters what NWS has been saying. Beat the crowds and start preparing NOW.

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  60. This seems to be stacking up similarly to the series of snow storms in Dec 2008, which to me was more substantial than the 1996 event. The snow in 1996 lasted about four days and immediately turned to rain and washed away after a grand finale dumping. In 2008, we thought the hopes and dreams for a second snow storm in a few days were crushed due to Seattle being stuck in the rain shadow, but instead a huge, unexpected convergence zone followed and that's when it all began with 6" of snow in Seattle. Snowfall continued for and additional week all the way into Christmas and piled up 1-2 feet before it was all said and done. It would be nice to know if radar data is ever compared to what past models had tried to predict to "keep score" between models or figure out ways to make them more precise. I've noticed there is quite a variability in actual totals compared to what any of the models had predicted. Do any of the model's provide an uncertainty, as in the confidence level that the snow total will be within that certain range?

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  61. During that 1996 storm, Victoria BC received over 2' of snow (with a 2-day total of over 4'), breaking records set in traditionally snowier cities from across Canada. Road crews were entirely unprepared and transportation was paralysed. I had to travel from Gabriola Island to White Rock to feed and care for animals at an avian research facility (=non-negotiable) the day after the storm. It was quite a trip, taking far longer than usual. I finally arrived after dark, late but able to feed & water everyone without too much disruption. Let's hope that we aren't going to experience anything like that this weekend.

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  62. Dec 1968-69 was pretty epic. I was in 7th grade and missed over a week of school.

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  63. Sounds like I'll be playing a lot of Apex Legends this weekend .

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  64. The infamous winter of 90-91 (storm hit a week before Christmas of 90) was wild - almost 2 days of snow + high winds = 6 foot snowdrifts on Queen Anne and elsewhere. Nothing much moved for almost a week because nothing much COULD move! I enjoyed it: it was winter, it was cold, there was LOTS of snow! I did feel bad for most of the forecasters, though - they got blindsided because they all said the Arctic air wouldn't get any further south than Vancouver Island....well, that cold mass went all the way down to SF where they got a dusting of snow out of that storm as well!

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  65. Weather-dot-com is predicting 1 inch on Sat, 1-3 inches on Monday and less than an inch on Tuesday... for my area, Auburn, WA.
    THIS prediction would put most of the NW state at a standstill. You cannot drive in hilly Seattle in the snow.

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  66. Cliff, do you have any insight into what Portland will look like this weekend and in to next week? Thank you!!

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  67. @ellen

    you should write a book vs. disgorging via the comments section of a blog.

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  68. Why such disparity between the two (three if you include Canadian) models? Is NOAA partial to the GFS? It seems as if it is the preferred model, even if not as accurate.

    Also, the Euro model is showing temps in the mid 30s on Monday and Tuesday but significant snowfall totals - will it be warmer aloft than at the surface and that's where the readings are taken? How can we explain that incongruity?

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  69. 1) Why does NOAA seem to prefer the GFS runs when making forecasts? Is there a partiality?
    2) If I'm reading the charts right, temps on Monday and Tuesday seem to be above freezing, how is it that we'll get a significant amount of snow?

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  70. Will any of this snow be heavy and wet? Also will there be winds causing drifts? Looking at the maps for my location near North Bend there could be a total of 30” accumulation when added to the 9” already on the ground now. Could be snapping some big branches too.

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  71. I remember that winter. We actually lived in Wenatchee then and were used to snow driving. We came to Seattle for the Holidays. Talk about utter craziness!!

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  72. response to unknown:
    in dec 2008 - we had four storms over a week, including 1/2" of ice. I had 24" at my house. I've lived in this house for 36 years, and never had that much on the ground at one time. I was driving my mother in mukiteo the end of January, and there were still piles of snow in parking lots.

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  73. Pretty sure Cliff is trolling us with this article. He and others were criticized for predicting far too little snow from this past Sun/Mon. event. This is a CYA post. HA!

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  74. Ellen Jarvin - for that storm, my husband was working in Tacoma. blue sky, sunshine and wondering what all the hubbub was about on the radio. He was in tukwila before he saw a flake. in renton, he bailed off the freeway and took backroads.


    for the storm in 2008 - he was picking up our daughter from the airport, and ended up driving the entire way down 405 with chains because it hadn't even been plowed yet. only a handful of cars for the entire trip. (it had been plowed for his return trip. it was much easier.)

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  75. in mid street and walked. I was on have to parkkids. The school district just knew nothing.

    By 18:00 the wind on the bridge coming military reserves orvprior service women and an ~6’4” powerfully built veteran walked together back down from the U District and its gridlock. Buses empty in the middle of the streets along with all the cars.

    A mighty gust of wind blew him over the edge but the four women instantlybtacled his legs and held for more than five minutes before he Roman sit-up pulled himself up and got over the side. All five crawled the rest of the way down.

    Two days later a friend with an SUV and chains and I drove to check the public schools, we could only drive the low lands, walked up to the schools. Finally up by Aloha and west of 23rd Ave E, we found a school full.

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  76. @Unknown: 1996 was snowier than all but the very snowiest model run scenarios for the coming event. 1990 and 2008 were also very snowy winters. Going back earlier than 1990, there are other examples (but I wasn't here to experience them). Bottom line is that what some models are forecasting is not unprecedented. Just unusual.

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  77. Wait if you can. If not, chains, even for 4x4.

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  78. Will this storm reach Vancouver Island in your opinion?

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  79. Just bring lots of Salt over the Driveway before snow comes that will melt fast and not have to shovel lots of snow out from Driveway.

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    1. The salt wont work. It will only make ice. The temps and with high winds will only make it an ice rink. Compact snow will be way easier to navigate.

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  80. Promises, promises. We've been burned before: This all means we're just going to get an inch of snow because at the last minute it all blows east :)

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  81. Now all models show nothing for Monday. Cliff?

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  82. The forecast has already changed to not much happening mon/tues. Maybe Next time!

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  83. Storm has already been downgraded by the local news.

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  84. In 1996, the deepest snow I've ever seen here was followed by freezing rain and we lost power in Maple Valley for a week. We were on a well. Have some water handy. Insulate your pipes if that's not already been done.

    My parents broke down and got a generator the day before the power came back on. I'm buying one today.

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  85. Nov 85, Dec 90 and Dec 06 were the biggest I can remember. What are the top 5 snow storms in the last 50 years?
    1) 69
    2) Nov 85
    3) Dec 90
    4) Dec 06
    5) Dec 96

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  86. How exciting! I lived in Greenwood during the ‘96 snow event and we had about 2’ of snow. It’s the most snow I’ve seen in these parts in my 46 years. It was insane! The entire city shut down for a week and my carport collapsed, but we had a lot of fun! I live in Bothell now and I’m a bit nervous because we lose power a lot out here, but I have a fireplace and tons of camping gear and can rough it in my living room if I need to. Keep us posted!

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  87. So exciting! I've lived in the Seattle area my whole life and love our occasional snowstorms!

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  88. no one should expect brilliant accuracy in the forecast. Anything can and historically does happen when arctic air smashes into maritime air.

    Plan for the worse, be happy if it proves wrong

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    1. Exactly! Everyone needs to accept that we don't have models that "just work" for our region regarding snow. Because almost all models show a decent dump of snow, accept right now that it could be very bad and just be prepared. Stop trying to get definitive answers

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  89. NWS downgrading snow totals from earlier today. 4-6 inches for Seattle

    https://twitter.com/NWSSeattle/status/1093582155605856258

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    1. I'm not buying any of the forecasts and am choosing to just be prepared. I don't trust any model or aggregate of models for this one because of the constant variability

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  90. The downgrading always happens. I’ve lived here since 1976. It’s almost inevitable.

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  91. Cliff are you going to keep this updated until it's all over?

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  92. Since nearly every thing has been cancelled, we probably won't have any snow. And that will be a good thing!

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  93. OOOH - Love it (both forecasts). I've set out the long snow-tube for taking cores, and put out the extra snowboards; checked the gas for the generator; raided the woodpile. "We'll have us some fun" in Glacier.

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  94. Blogger Another Jen said...

    "El Nino could mean anything for us I have learned through experience and research. The convergence zone for the El Niño/La Niña sits right around the American/Canadian border. Which side we end up on depends on which weather front is stronger. With the Polar Vortex doing it's thing it looks like the convergence zone was knocked south of us, landing us on the cold side with the precipitation making its way up."

    Even though NOAA has been predicting and continues to predict we will enter an El Nino condition, it has not yet happened. El Nino conditions have been weakening. Next formal monthly El Nino update is one week from today.

    https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

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  95. I moved to Seattle in the spring of 1996 and bought a house that summer. That Christmas season, we got two feet of snow. I remember it well for two reasons.

    First, it happened to freakishly coincide with my needing an emergency root canal. We had a 4WD vehicle and I was able to go to the dentist just before he closed. Secondly, my parents, now deceased, came to visit. The snowstorm took everyone by surprise, and their two-day visit turned into 8 days.

    Let's just say that they weren't terribly compatible. When they "celebrated" their 50th wedding anniversary, I actually went looking for a joke card that mentioned a 50 years' war, but I couldn't find one. My spouse and I fled to separate rooms, one in the basement and one on the second floor. My father occupied the first floor den, and my mother occupied the first floor living room.

    All because of two feet of snow, which paralyzed Seattle because Seattle thinks that a) it is above the mere plowing of snow, and b) unlike other cities, has never arranged for contract plowing. I have a friend in the Milwaukee suburbs who does it with his pickup truck for $25 an hour.

    Sometime after that -- in the mid-'00s -- Seattle got a foot of snow, and the city shut down for a few days. But the 1996 event was two feet, and not a lot moved for two weeks.

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  96. Is there an update coming? I just ran a couple models that now show less than an inch in Seattle.

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  97. when will you update this forecast just wondering if forecast is still what they were predicting on wed thanks for your blog

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  98. It sounds like many local jurisdictions are out of salt and deicer. They only had enough for one storm response thinking they would be able to restock before the next. This back to back to back triple storm has left them scrambling for materials. With only 24 hours to go they may not get here in time or at all. This could be a complete "snowtastrophe".

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  99. Wish I had a wood stove just in case.

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  100. Is there an update? It seems like this is changing to early on Friday and not as much Saturday or on into the next week.

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  101. My whole workplace is eagerly awaiting your next post! Any updates???

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  102. Dr. Mass,

    Do you know if it is possible for the general public to access any of these forecast maps from the European Center? I'd love to be able to look up the updated forecasts as the ensemble is re-run.

    When I visit their website, all of the links I find that seem promising only lead to a login pop up that effectively breaks my browser because it can't be closed, can't use the back button, etc.

    I think I did at least find the UW data:
    https://a.atmos.washington.edu/wrfrt/data/timeindep/gfsinit.d3.6hr.html

    I'm looking at the "24 hour model snowfall."

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  103. 1985 the day before Thanksgiving a snowstorm stalled over Shelton Wa.all day and dumped 18 inches.I believe we had almost 12 inches more than any town around us.

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  104. Everyone is going to post their day to day wind/temp/snow totals right?

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  105. Cliff - it's time for an update to this forecast which is at odds with what all other weather outlets are predicting for next week. Are you standing by this at this point?

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  106. Come in Cliff, the Thursday afternoon NWS forecast is up, we need your update it’s been 24 hours. Thank you!!

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  107. Cliff, I would love to know if you have any records from an unexpected snowstorm in winter 1980. My recollection was Seattle had roughly 6 inches of snow. I was a young about-to-be first-time mom, also working in the city for the first time. I came out of my office in the SeaFirst Building and found that I was competing for a bus home to NE Tacoma with thousands of people who had driven to Seattle in the morning, but then decided to just leave their cars there and ride the bus home. After over an hour standing on the curb with one packed bus after another passing me (mind you, I was in a skirt and heels, and a light jacket - maybe not the brightest bulb at the time), I managed to get on a bus that, I thought, would put us on the freeway and directly home. Instead, the driver announced, with I-5 at a standstill, we would be going via Pac Hwy the entire way. Stopping every 2 blocks all the way, I swear. Four hours later, he put us off at the Park and Ride on 320th Street. I still had to walk to where my car was waiting, past the mall and several blocks more. My husband was waiting at the car. He and my MIL both chewed me out for not getting off the bus and calling to let them know where I was. Remember, this was before cell phones. My response was, had I gotten off, I didn't know if I would ever be able to get on another. I was forgiven. I also recall people on the bus being very kind and even jovial, and the very nice young man who gave me his seat.

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  108. I live in Friday Harbor--no one seems to ever say anything about our weather. Are we getting snow????? Do we count?

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  109. Love the level of detail here. And thank you for explaining things in layman's terms! Just gave you a shoutout on my blog here: www.kirklandweblog.com

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  110. 8:45 a.m. Friday: 1" plus of snow on the deck right now here on the southwest side of San Juan Island, and it is still snowing. Thanks for your blog and the depth of information it provides.

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  111. Seems like a lot of hype. Wasn’t this supposed to be much larger than the last storm? An “absolute classic, veritable snow machine?” Yawn...made for some good TV

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