Three storms, one potentially record-breaking, are headed our way
The colorful Autumn leaves you see on the trees around Queen Anne may not last, so get out today to enjoy them…
Here’s Cliff Mass’ assessment of the Saturday storm:
“A true monster storm, potentially as strong as the most powerful storm in NW history (the Columbus Day Storm of 1962) will be approaching our area on Saturday.”
Storm One: arrives late this evening (Wednesday) and continues into Thursday. Expect heavy rain (1-2 inches) and wind gusts 30-40 mph in Seattle.
Storm Two: Friday will be rainy & breezy.
Storm Three: The “Monster Storm” arrives on Saturday. Expect 30-50 mph gusts in Seattle and per Cliff Mass, it could change course: “If the models are wrong and the storm’s track heads further east, Puget Sound could get a very major hit with massive power outages and damage. This is a very dangerous storm.”
Be prepared for the storms in advance:
- Make sure storm drains outside your home or building are clear.
- Charge your electronic devices.
- Report power outages to Seattle City Light (SCL) via phone 206.684.3000 or 206.684.7400
- You can also follow SCL on Twitter or Facebook
- Check power outages and estimated uptimes on the Seattle City Light outage page. I’ll post ETAs on Twitter and Facebook as well (but if Queen Anne loses power, so do I).
Let’s hope the storms end up being typical October weather… but, Cliff Mass is usually right. You can read his full forecast here.
As predicted, it’s snowing in Queen Anne
It’s snowing in Queen Anne, as of 1:20 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, but before you get too excited, the snowfall is not expected to stick. For the last week, forecasters have been predicting snow. Well, it’s here, at least for now.
According to the National Weather Service, “expect brief and local accumulations of slushy snow to occur through early Wednesday morning. This is likely to occur on hills above about 500 feet this morning and above 300 feet tonight and early Wednesday morning.” A “winter storm watch” is in effect from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning. A winter storm watch means conditions are favorable for severe winter weather.
UW Atmospheric Science professor and weather blogger Cliff Mass is predicting that this storm will dump two to five inches of snow in north Seattle. “Good news for commuters and SDOT tomorrow,” Mass writes, “Temperatures will remain above freezing, SO NO SOLID ICE LAYER like Nov 22, 2010.”
Could a little snow mean a bigger storm this week?
If you’re trekking around the hill today or have caught a glimpse out the nearest window, odds are you’ve noticed that it’s snowing here in Queen Anne. Though the temperature’s a bit too high for anything to stick (at 37 degrees as of 3:30 this afternoon), we’re seeing a pretty substantial mix of snow and rainfall in the neighborhood.
While no accumulation is expected for today’s snow showers, forecasters are looking ahead to Tuesday night and Wednesday, where a significant snow event could be in play.
As is typical here in Seattle, the forecast keeps shifting. At first, UW meteorologist Cliff Mass suggested it could be a historic snow event. Then he backed off as forecasts showed it heading north, perhaps into Vancouver. Now the Weather Service says the model has it shifting a little more south, which could bring 4 inches or more in the Seattle area. “It’s still way too early to know what scenario will play out,” says the Weather Service.
At this point we’re not sure what the snow-cast will look like this week on the hill, but if November’s snowfall is any indication, it might be a good idea to pick up a pair of chains for traversing Queen Anne’s slopes in advance—we don’t want a repeat of the vehicular carnage icy streets brought to the hill last time around.
SDOT prepares for slippery streets & possibly snow
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is preparing for the possibility of snow and ice on city streets again tomorrow. The forecast, which outlines temperatures just above freezing overnight tonight, could bring up to one-half inch of wet snow and the possibility of an additional inch of snow Wednesday morning.
Seattle skyline/view from Kerry Park under cover of snow, November 22, 2010.
After 10 p.m. tonight SDOT crews will proactively apply salt brine in roadway areas where frost or black ice is prone to develop, especially on bridges and other elevated structures around the city.
Starting at 4 a.m. tomorrow morning (Wednesday), SDOT spreader trucks will be prepositioned throughout the city, ready to spread rock salt on major arterial streets (primary snow routes, Levels 1 and 2) for the morning commute if conditions warrant.
SDOT’s snow plan calls for plowing when there is more than one inch of snow accumulated on roadways, which is not part of the forecast at this time.
Despite the potential for snow, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass says the likelihood that we’ll see a repeat of the snow and severe ice that blasted us on Thanksgiving week is low. He writes on his blog:
This is a VERY, VERY different situation than November 22nd. You will not see a powerful arctic blast associated with strong high pressure in British Columbia and a major coastal low over SW Washington. Temperatures will be far more marginal. Far less icing potential. But there COULD be some interesting wrinkles….like a chance for Puget Sound Convergence Zone snow.
Cliff estimates that “where precipitation is heavy enough, some snow showers could reach the surface, but nothing substantial.”
If the Convergence Zone is stronger than forecast then more snow could hit the Puget Sound lowlands. However, forecast temperatures are predicted to peak near 40F on Wednesday. This looks marginal to me…only heavy precipitation and the cooling associated with it…something that is not predicted… could bring several inches of snow to Seattle.
We will continue to monitor the evolution of this event, but right now it does not look serious event near sea level. Eastern suburbs could get few inches. Not an icing situation during the day…
Read more on SDOT’s winter weather response plan and to view a map of snow routes here.
Queen Anne Avenue is still open, for now, public schools close early & other snow updates
Queen Anne Ave is still open to vehicle traffic, at least for now. The day’s snow has not yet stuck to the steep thoroughfare, and cars seems to be traveling up and down the hill just fine. However, just after returning home from a walk around town taking pictures of the snow, I glanced out my window to catch a large semi-truck sliding backwards, down Queen Anne Avenue, back to the bottom of the Counterbalance.
The driver didn’t make another attempt to climb the hill, indicating that conditions are already too slick for larger vehicles to safely traverse.
The weather report originally estimated that Seattle could see anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of snow today, but as the snowfall presses on, UW atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass says even more snow—in large amounts—is a possibility this afternoon. From Cliff’s blog:
If the low goes south of us and draws some of that cold, unstable air in…and it meets the cold stream from the north, we are talking about serious snow (6-12 inches). Or if the low moves farther north we could get a Puget Sound convergence zone over the central Sound and a huge amount of snow in a narrow band (a la Dec 18, 1990). The system is moving slower than the models predicted and the real threat is the middle and latter parts of this afternoon.
While many of the roads in Queen Anne are still clear, ice is stacking up. There have already been a handful of crashes on the Aurora Bridge today, and conditions are increasingly worse as the day goes on.
Seattle Public Schools also decided that the forecast for snow, the majority of which is expected to fall this afternoon, was enough to release all schools in the district at 12:35 p.m today (originally only the middle and high schools were given a half day).
Seattle Parks and Recreation has also closed down a number of facilities due to the snow. Here are the closures affecting Queen Anne:
- All community center programs scheduled after 6 p.m. are canceled.
- All pool programs scheduled after 6 p.m. are canceled.
- Pools and community centers will be open for drop-in use until their regularly scheduled closing times: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/centers.asp and http://www.seattle.gov/parks/pools.asp.
- All athletic fields are closed.
- All evening recreation programs are canceled.
- Parks and Recreation’s middle-school learning centers are closed.
- Late night programs will not take place tonight.
- Golf courses are closed but not open for sledding because there is not enough snow.
School age care camps at the Queen Anne Community Center are still in session.
Summer is officially here!
It’s true when they say that summer doesn’t start around here until after the 4th of July. Well it’s July 6th and summer is here. Right on time.
The 5-day forecast from King5.com
Cliff Mass explains why there is a sudden shift in the weather pattern, “Two reasons: high pressure aloft is producing general sinking and warming of air (by compression) is the first. And there is easterly flow developing over the Cascades, which produces enhanced sinking (warming) on the western slopes.” You can read his entire explanation, complete with maps highlighting the weather over the next few days, on his blog.