SEATTLE - First came snow, then bitter cold. Now more snow is expected across Washington state, as much as 2 more feet in the mountains by Thursday, and the National Weather Service says another snowstorm could hit over the weekend.
Washington state is in store for some more frigid weather, and temperatures across Western Washington will likely remain mostly below freezing through Christmas.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Tuesday night and Wednesday across Washington as forecasters expect more snow to fall across the frozen state.
"We have a weather disturbance moving down from British Columbia. That's going to be spreading increasing snow to Washington after midnight," said KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott. "We'll have a pretty good round of snow tomorrow."
Overnight, rain or a mix of rain and snow is developing along the coast and snow inland mainly after midnight, especially south of Tacoma (trace to 3 inches) and north of Arlington (trace to 5 inches).
Some freezing rain or sleet is possible over the inland areas of the coastal counties, with a slight chance over the Hood Canal area and southwest interior.
"The foothills are going to see more," KING 5 Meteorologist Jeff Renner said. "The mountains are going to see tons more."
Thursday, freezing rain or sleet is likely in the coastal counties and the Hood Canal area, with precipitation likely to change to snow, up to 5 inches possible, and even more on hills.
Snow is likely to develop after midnight north of Arlington and continuing through the morning, decreasing in the afternoon. The likely range is 1 to 8 inches, heaviest near the Cascades.
In the Greater Puget Sound Area, snow may begin falling before sunrise, but the greatest activity is likely later during mid-morning to early afternoon. The most persistent snowfall is likely over north King and south Snohomish counties and along or near the Cascade foothills, with 1 to 8 inches of snow likely. The rest of the Sound is likely to see amounts ranging from a trace to 5 inches.
Heavy snow is expected to develop in the mountains, ranging from 4 inches to 16 inches, with the heaviest precipitation from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass.
Eastern Washington will see from 2 inches to 10 inches of snow, heaviest along the east slopes of the Cascades around Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Leavenworth and Wenatchee.
Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties will also see fairly strong winds, probably 15 to 35 mph.
Overnight Wednesday, winds will pick up, bringing in drier, cold air that will end the snow showers. There's another chance of snow Sunday as the cold continues into late in the week.
School closures, icy roads
Many schools will likely be delayed Wednesday due to the snow and icy slick streets. to check school delays and cancellations.
Cold and blowing snow made driving difficult on many highways and roads. Most Seattle neighborhoods don't have major problems, but West Seattle remains a trouble spot.
Forecasters said previous cold spells will make records hard to break but the lows expected this week may come close.
The last memorable cold spell in the Seattle area was the six days before Christmas in 1990 when the temperature didn't get above freezing, Burg said. There was also a 10-day stretch of freezing weather in Seattle in 1969.
The cold snap means big business for tire stores in the region. Big O Tires in Seattle says studded tires have turned into a hot commodity. The cold weather also increases demand for regular tires.
Plumbers and heating specialists are also working overtime.
The record cold temperatures are driving the homeless into packed shelters, where there are few beds, if any, still available at some locations.
Several warming centers in Spokane are likely to stay open through the week and other emergency shelters for the homeless are open around the state.
The city of Seattle opened emergency shelters at City Hall, the Frye Hotel and Seattle Center, where 159 people have stayed each night since Friday.
Union Gospel Mission in Seattle's Pioneer Square dispatched its emergency van to pass out blankets, coats, food and hot chocolate to people on the streets.
"People were so cold that they wanted two blankets," agency spokeswoman Sharon Thomas-Hearns said.
Shelter organizers say there's still a need for blankets, shoes, winter coats and a number of other items. If you'd like to help or make a donation, contact your local shelter.
The cost of the chilly weather is adding up for Sea-Tac Airport. It has already gone through half of its yearly supply of de-icer.
The Transportation Department has decided to keep Cayuse and Chinook passes near Mount Rainier and the North Cascades Highway closed for the winter.
A spokeswoman, Kris Olsen, says officials made the decision Monday after evaluating weekend snow. The passes had been closed last week temporarily.
The three passes are routinely closed for winter and reopen in the spring.
Crystal Mountain ski area opened Saturday, thanks to all the snow. More than 3,000 skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes. The ski area plans to remain open for the season.
Both Mount Baker and Crystal Mountain ski areas are open. Stevens Pass Ski Resort plans to open on Thursday with limited operations. Mission Ridge plans to start daily operations on Friday.
Meanwhile, White Pass and the Summit at Snoqualmie ski areas are waiting for Wednesday's storm before making a decision.