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

Feb 23, 2024, 2:44 PM | Updated: 4:15 pm

Greenlake weather...

The sun through Saturday will give way to a return of winter. (Photo: Bill Kaczaraba)

(Photo: Bill Kaczaraba)

A big change in the weather pattern is expected over the weekend and will extend into next week. After rather mild February weather in recent days, a strong cold front is expected to sweep through Western Washington Sunday and Sunday night, ushering in a much colder air mass from the Gulf of Alaska.

Rain and breezy conditions are expected in the lowlands Sunday, but a foot or two of new snow is anticipated for the mountains with snow levels dropping to 3,000 feet Sunday and near 500 feet by Monday morning. For those with plans to travel into or through the Cascades this weekend, be prepared for a rapid change to snow-covered roadway winter weather driving conditions Sunday and Sunday night.

Following the cold front Sunday night, a more showery weather pattern is forecast with snow levels hovering around 500 to 1,000 feet Monday and Tuesday. High temperatures will cool into the 40s, while lows will drop into the 30s. Wet snow accumulations are possible in the higher terrain and Cascade foothills each night and morning.

More on weather: Mountain snowpack sending major warnings about water supplies

Another strong Pacific weather system is on tap to sweep through Western Washington mid-week, with more lowland rain and additional snow in the mountains. Cascade pass highways will once again have tough winter weather driving circumstances. Be sure to carry chains and be ready to use them if required.

The mountains can use all this fresh snow. The snowpack is woefully under average. The amount of water in the current snowpack reported Thursday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) showed just over 30 percent of average in the Olympics, and the Cascades ranging from about 50-75% of normal for the latter part of February.

This sequence of storms will help make up some ground, with perhaps a total of three feet or so of fresh snow piling up this weekend through mid-week.

The latest weather outlook for the next two weeks into early March also shows promise for more mountain snow, with the odds in favor of below-average temperatures and a higher likelihood for above-average precipitation. The window of opportunity to have some mountain snowpack catch up will be in hand.

More from Ted Buehner: Winter’s still here, but the weather will reflect a sense spring is coming

Skiers, snowboarders and other snow enthusiasts have had a tough winter season thus far, and the next few weeks offer more long-awaited fun in the snow. Remember to monitor avalanche danger conditions as this fresh snow piles up on the older snowpack.

In the meantime, expect more sunshine to emerge Thursday and Friday as higher pressure aloft builds into the region with mild February temperatures well into the 50s. Just note the prospect of morning fog on Friday for reduced visibility, particularly for motorists on the roads.

For the weekend, Saturday is by far the drier day before the rain develops on Sunday. If outdoor activities are planned, Saturday is the day to make them happen.

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.

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