Western Washington bracing for cold, snow this weekend

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by JIM FORMAN and KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 19 at 11:32 AM

SEATTLE - Western Washington could be dealing with lowland snow this weekend as forecasters predict temperatures to drop below freezing levels around the region.

"As we head into late Saturday night-Sunday morning, that cold air will move down from British Columbia spreading over Western Washington. As that moves through, probably some light snow - a trace of snow to an inch for the major metropolitan areas possible - and then turning into cold for Sunday and continuing for Monday and Tuesday," said KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott.

Marriott predicts temperatures to drop to the low 30s over the weekend and into the 20s and the teens in some spots by early next week.

The oncoming cold snap has the City of Seattle springing into action. Two different warming shelters are opening Friday and will remain open until Tuesday. Seattle generally doesn't open warming shelters unless there are two or more deays of heavy rain or when temperatures reach 23 degrees or lower.

Some areas could see their first significant snowfall of the year starting Friday. Several viewers sent in pictures of light snow in Lynden early Friday morning.  View or send in your weather photos.

KING 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Renner says he expects rain showers to become mixed with or change to snow showers Friday over Whatcom, San Juan and Clallam counties, as well as the Hood Canal area and the hills in southwest Washington. Snowfall amounts in those areas could range from trace amounts to perhaps 4-inches.

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Renner says a rain-snow mix or wet snow may reach sea level by Sunday, but that there will be little-to-no accumulation – zero to 1-inch at most.

Beyond that, there is the cold.

“Arctic air is beginning to trickle out of the Fraser River Canyon,” said Renner. The early part of next week will be the coldest of the year with highs in the 30s -- probably 20s over Whatcom county -- and overnight lows in the mid-teens to mid-20s.

“It happens every year," said Danny Patton, plumbing expert at the Tulalip Home Depot. He's talking about the rush of people into the store to stock up on faucet covers, pipe blankets and window insulation. He says a forecast like this one can lead to a run on supplies.

During the last big cold snap, Patton says, “the people who waited the next day, we ran out of a couple of things.”

Just as this Canadian air aims at us, government forecasters released the long range forecast which calls for colder and wetter conditions through the early part of next year.

The weather phenomenon known as La Nina, a cooling of the currents in the Pacific Ocean, is taking hold on our weather. The experts say its “borderline strong.”

But Renner cautions that forecasts which are months out are based on statistical averages and are no guarantee.

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