Uncertainty of any snow in the lowlands, as blizzard hammers mountains

Jan 10, 2024, 9:49 AM | Updated: 12:18 pm

Image: A Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) tow plow is seen in action on a snow...

A Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) tow plow is seen in action on a snowy road. (Image courtesy of WSDOT)

(Image courtesy of WSDOT)

So far this week, Washington mountains received two to four feet of much-needed snow. Now, is it finally time for the Western Washington lowlands to get its turn at getting some snow? The uncertainty of any snow in the lowlands is beginning to come into focus.

What is becoming sharper in focus is that much colder air from the interior of Western Canada is coming to Western Washington. Strong pressure differences from up north to our region are rising with outflow from the Fraser River Canyon starting Thursday and should peak Thursday night and Friday. By Friday and into the weekend, much of Western Washington will have freezing temperatures.

More weather news: The jury is still out when it comes to lowland snow this weekend in Western Wash.

But cold air alone does not produce snow. Moisture is needed and there are a couple of opportunities in the coming days for that moisture.

The first opportunity will arise on Thursday as the colder air from the interior of Western Canada begins to pour out of the Fraser Canyon into the Northwest interior of Western Washington. Bellingham, Whatcom, and San Juan counties will feel the cold breezes first, essentially creating a cold front. The associated, yet limited, moisture has a good likelihood of producing some light snow, enough for a dusting to a few inches in some locations.

As that surge of colder air works its way south, the threat of light snow will develop from the northern Olympic Peninsula across to Island, Skagit and Snohomish Counties with snow levels easing down to around 400 feet or so. By Thursday evening, that surge of colder air will arrive in the Central Puget Sound area with a few areas receiving some light amounts of snow.

Looking at Friday and the weekend

On Friday, the colder air will be in place across the region with high temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark and lows dropping down into the 20s with teens in the colder wind-sheltered outlying areas. In Whatcom County, winds out of the Fraser Canyon are expected to peak with wind gusts of 35 to 50 mph and wind chills dipping below zero.

The next best chance for lowland snow develops Friday night into Saturday. Weather guidance still has not pinned this scenario down, yet it looks like an incoming Pacific weather system is headed primarily into Oregon during this time period.

This system will spread moisture up and over the resident colder air in Western Washington, offering another opportunity for lowland snow. In this case, Southwest Washington up to the Central Puget Sound area has the best prospect of accumulating snow with a range of perhaps 1 to 4 inches. In addition, the coastal region could have a threat of freezing rain. More details will arise in the next few days.

More news: Drivers in mountains need to take extra precautions, be aware of citations

Later in the weekend, the threat of lowland wintry precipitation should ease with perhaps some sunshine. Temperatures though will remain near or below freezing for much of the region. By early next week, temperatures are anticipated to slowly moderate.

In the meantime, now is the time to prepare for the coldest weather of the season thus far. At home, bundle up and insulate water pipes, ensure there is plenty of food, water, and any needed medicines on hand. Also remember your pets need to be prepared as well.

If driving is a must during this time period, ensure your tires have good tread, have chains on board, and carry items like a snow shovel and kitty litter for added traction. It is time to get ready for winter weather conditions.

Cold weather shelters

King Co:

Tacoma/Pierce Co:

Snohomish Co:

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter.

MyNorthwest Weather

Greenlake weather...

Ted Buehner

The weekend weather will remind us that it’s still winter

A big change in the weather pattern is expected over the weekend and will extend into next week.

2 days ago

Warmer temperatures recently brought people out to Green Lake....

Ted Buehner

Winter’s still here, but the weather will reflect a sense spring is coming

It is mid-February. Each day is getting a bit over three minutes longer and daylight hours have expanded to about 10.5 hours.

6 days ago


Bill Kaczaraba

Windstorm coming to Western Washington

A windstorm is coming to Western Washington on Friday night through Saturday, the National Weather Service (NWS) reports.

9 days ago

snowpack, levels...

Ted Buehner

Mountain snowpack sending major warnings about water supplies

It’s the middle of February and Washington's mountain snowpack is well below average from where it should be.

10 days ago

western washington snow...

Frank Sumrall

Parts of Western Washington see slush and snow, most schools delayed or closed

According to KIRO 7, we will have some wet snow mixing in with rain at times, but for the most part, we’ll see just wet roads into Thursday morning.

10 days ago

washington snowpack...

Frank Sumrall

Cliff Mass on state’s depleted snowpack: ‘We understand … it’s not climate change’

UW atmospheric science professor Cliff Mass cited the region's El Niño winter conditions as the most significant reason for the depleted snowpack. 

12 days ago

Uncertainty of any snow in the lowlands, as blizzard hammers mountains