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Posted at 03:51 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Snow stacks up in Seattle; stormy weather pounds Pacific Northwest


A Metro bus drives under a canopy of snow-covered trees in Pioneer Square Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson - AP)
A major winter storm has struck the Pacific Northwest, producing 4 to 6 inches of snow in Seattle, but over a foot in nearby Olympia. And in the Cascades, several feet of snow have accumulated since the weekend. Meanwhile, the Oregon coast has been battered by winds gusts to around 100 mph and seas of 25-35 feet.

The amount of snow that has fallen in Seattle has nearly equaled the amount it has averaged in an entire season over the last 30 years (5.7 inches). But the heavier snow fell to its south.

Olympia’s total of about 12” is close to its 24-hour snowfall record of 14 inches.

The Associated Press reports the storm caused scores of accidents in the region, especially in Pierce and Thurrston counties where 95 accidents occurred in just 8 hours. Schools and many courts, government offices and libraries closed. At the Sea-Tac airport, Alaska Airlines canceled 38 flights. The airport has received 4.2” of snow according to the Weather Channel.


The Washington state Capitol is covered with snow in Olympia. A (Rachel La Corte - AP)
The worst of snowfall is likely in over in Seattle according to meteorologist and blogger Cliff Mass.

“You will note that the back edge of the snow is moving in from the west and that even over the inland areas the intensity of declined substantially”, Mass wrote. “The latest model runs indicate that snow will be mainly over by 1 PM [WT] and these radar images are consistent with this.”

Related: Seattle gears up for major snowstorm

In general, snow amounts in Seattle fell on the low-end of projections. For his part, Mass predicted 2-6” yesterday, which was about spot on. Forecasts for historic storm dumping a foot or more proved to be hyperbole.

The National Weather Service summarized totals in the region (through 1 p.m. ET or 10:00 a.m. WT) as follows:

THUS FAR...LOOKS LIKE A GENERAL 2 TO 5 INCHES OF SNOW FROM SEATTLE NORTHWARD...6 TO 10 INCHES NEAR TACOMA AND 10 TO 20+ INCHES OLYMPIA DOWN THROUGH NAPAVINE.

A warm front is forecast to move through western Washington tonight, gradually transitioning any lingering snow to rain from low to higher elevations during the day Thursday.

Friday into the weekend, mainly rain is likely except at high elevations, where multi-day snow totals will be measured in multiple feet.

A combination of heavy wet snow, wind, and rain in the mountains is leading to high to extreme avalanche danger. Some areas have received 30-60 inches of snow since Saturday. Avalanche warnings are in effect for the eastern slopes of the Cascades.

Into Oregon, after 3” of snow around Portland, precipitation changed to rain and snow levels have risen into the mountains. But at elevations over 4000 feet, one to two feet or more more has fallen (28” in Mt. Hood).

Along the coast of Oregon, several inches of flooding rain are forecast through Thursday. Today, wind gusts of 70-100+ mph were common.

By  |  03:51 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Categories:  U.S. Weather, U.S. Weather

 
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