The forecast for Seattle on Monday was about one to two inches of snow. Instead, 6.1 inches pasted the city, perhaps no surprise during a 10-day stretch that has become historic.
The half-foot of snow pushed February’s total to 20.2 inches, Seattle’s snowiest month in 50 years. It’s the seventh-snowiest month dating to 1895 and the fourth-snowiest since records have been kept at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“We’re probably ready to wave the white flag of surrender, only it’d likely get lost in the sea of snow,” quipped KOMO-TV meteorologist Scott Sistek.
Monday’s snowstorm brought a new round of power outages and travel woes to the region. At least 90,000 customers lost power, and more than 400 flights were canceled at the airport. Traffic remains snarled, with some roads closed because of the snow and fallen trees.
The latest round of snow was heavy and wet, with unusually high water content packed into it.
In a typical snowfall, the water content in 10 inches of snow is equivalent to an inch of rain. But for this pasty snowfall, the National Weather Service office in Seattle reported that there was the equivalent of an inch of water embedded within three inches of snow.
The combined weight of the snow from previous storms and Monday’s cementlike dump proved too much for many trees, which fell in large numbers.
The heft of the snow also increased the risk for roof collapses. The roof of an outbuilding at a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Shoreline collapsed, injuring two people. Other roof collapses were reported around Tacoma.
As temperatures rose above freezing in much of the area and the snow changed to rain, the latest concern has become flooding.
A flood warning for small streams and urban areas was issued Tuesday morning, and high water closed some roads in and around Seattle.
What comes next
There’s still no guaranteed end in sight to the cold and snowy pattern in the Pacific Northwest.
Another storm system is slated to move toward the region later this week. While the Weather Service forecast for Seattle calls for more rain than snow, the new system is taking a path that is similar to recent snowstorms.
Beyond the risk of more snow, it also appears to want to stay colder than normal in the region for the foreseeable future. Forecasts and weather models suggest below-normal temperatures should continue for the next one to two weeks.
Given all these wintry factors, it seems likely that additional white flags of surrender will be waved in the time ahead.
February’s snowfall in perspective
Thanks to Monday’s snowfall, the snowiest February on record at Seattle-Tacoma became a good deal snowier. It hopped past four more months into fourth place for any month of the year at that location.
The 20.2 inches of snow so far this February is the most recorded there since 45.4 inches fell in January 1969. This is, of course, way beyond the average February snowfall of 1.7 inches.
It was also the second six-inch-plus snowstorm of the month. Getting two snow events that large in one month is a rarity for the city. According to the Weather Service office serving Seattle, February 2019 becomes the fifth month on record to accomplish this.