Back-to-back waves of snow dumped over 11 inches of snow on Seattle this weekend, breaking the city’s February snowfall record. The city is bracing for two more snow events, the first arriving Monday.
The weekend snow blitz resulted in hundreds of closed schools and businesses Monday, including the Seattle Public School District. Travel was also heavily disrupted, on land and in the air. Hundreds of flights were canceled Sunday.
Power outages peaked around 150,000 customers in the Puget Sound, according to local media reports. But as of Monday morning, much of that power had been restored.
The weekend storminess officially dropped 11.4 inches of snow on the city, pushing its February total to 14.1 inches, an inch ahead of the previous record of 13.1 inches set in 1949.
The first wave, which came through Friday and Saturday, unloaded 7.9 inches. It marked Seattle’s biggest snowstorm since February 1990, when 9.8 inches fell in one event.
Then came round two late Sunday, when snow pasted the city again. By the time it was done, an additional 3.5 inches was recorded. The three-day total of 11.4 inches ranked 15th most on record in Seattle since 1945.
The weekend double whammy followed 2.7 inches that fell Feb. 3 and 4. Before these three events in the span of a week, Seattle had been snowless this winter. But the season flipped suddenly from lackluster to extreme. February’s snowfall is approaching 10 times the average of just 1.7 inches.
As if the Seattle area needs more snow and cold weather, another storm system is bearing down on the region.
The city is under a winter weather advisory late Monday morning into the evening. Precipitation is expected to start as snow, with about one to two inches falling. But then the forecast becomes tricky.
“On a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, this afternoon and evening’s forecast remains near a 10,” the National Weather Service office serving Seattle said.
The forecasting challenge stems from a storm track a bit farther west than earlier ones. This should allow slightly warmer air to work into the area. As such, the snow is expected to turn to rain Monday night, limiting totals.
But then more may be on the way. Weather models suggest another storm system will approach the region around Thursday night on a similar track to the ones that have already dispensed plentiful cold and snow.
While the specifics of the forecast remain uncertain, more snow and cold seem like a reasonable expectation given what this weather regime has already delivered.
Beyond that, there is some indication that the cold and snowy pattern may relax and shift a bit.
It can’t last forever, right?!
This winter’s snow and cold in perspective
The 14.1-inch winter snow total so far is the highest since 2008-2009, when 23.3 inches fell over the entire winter. It’s also presently the 33rd snowiest winter on record back to 1895 and the 16th snowiest on record at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, where records have been kept since 1945.
This February marks the eighth snowiest month on record at the airport and the 16th snowiest month in the entire Seattle record, which also includes amounts measured at the Seattle City Office from 1894 to 1944.
Seattle’s all-time snowiest February, when you include the previous observing location, came in 1916, when 35.4 inches fell. The snowiest month at the airport was January 1950, when 57.2 inches of snow was measured.
In addition to all the snow, temperatures are now running about 10 degrees below normal for the month. The city hasn’t made it above the 30s in over a week.
Cold is set to continue into the foreseeable future. While temperatures may surpass 40 degrees later this week, the average high is 50 degrees and slowly rising with the approach of spring.