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.
QA Science Café hosts free talk on the “Great Windstorms of the Pacific Northwest” Tuesday
KCTS and the Pacific Science Center are hosting a free talk on the “Great Windstorms of the Pacific Northwest” with Cliff Mass, writer if the Cliff Mass Weather Blog, at the Queen Anne Science Café on Tuesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. The discussion is being held at T.S. McHugh’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, located at 21 Mercer St.
Who says talking about the weather is boring? Dr. Cliff Mass, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, joins the Queen Anne Science Cafe to discuss major storms that have pummeled the Pacific Northwest, some equivalent to category 2 or 3 hurricanes.
Dr. Mass studies weather with the Mesoscale Analysis and Forecasting Group. He received his BA in physics from Cornell and his PhD in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington. He is the author of Weather of the Pacific Northwest, and he blogs about weather at cliffmass.blogspot.com.
KCTS 9, the Pacific Science Center and Science on Tap present free monthly Science Café discussions on the first Tuesday of each month in an effort to bridge the gap between the world of science and the community in a casual, laid back, social way. See a schedule of upcoming Science Café events here.
This event perfectly coincides with our own changing weather patterns here in Seattle. Just this morning the Seattle division of the American Red Cross sent out a press release urging residents in the Pacific Northwest to prepare for strong winds and potential power outages (not uncommon here in Queen Anne). See the full press release below:
American Red Cross Urges Preparations for Strong Winds and Potential Power Outages
SEATTLE, May 3, 2010 – With a spring storm bringing wind gusts of up to 50 mph and scattered power outages throughout Western Washington today, the American Red Cross reminds individuals and families to stay safe and be prepared.
“Spring weather is unpredictable,” said Susan Pelaez, Director of Preparedness and Community Engagement. “We are seeing communities dealing with the effects of Mother Nature across the country today, and Washington is no exception. We want to help Puget Sound communities to be safe and prepared for whatever comes their way.”
Tips from the Red Cross on preparing for high winds and possible power outages:
Prepare for High Winds
- Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
- During the storm, draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
Top Safety Tips for a Power Outage
- Assemble essential supplies, including: flashlight, batteries, portable radio, at least one gallon of water, and a small supply of food.
- Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power outage.
- Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information – only call to report a life-threatening emergency.
- Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
- Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out. Leave one light on so you know when the power comes back on.
- Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
- If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
- Stay focused on the risks of smoke and carbon monoxide. Buy a carbon monoxide alarm if you do not already have one. They are available at most hardware stores. If you have one, check the battery to make sure it is working. If the alarm sounds: get to fresh air by going outside. Contact the fire department before you go back inside your home.
The American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian agency dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. For more information about emergency preparedness or Red Cross Chapters in Washington State, please visit www.redcrosswashington.org or www.seattleredcross.org.
Interactive Communications and Outreach Coordinator
American Red Cross
Serving King & Kitsap Counties
Voice: (206) 709-4509
(360) 377-3761 x13805