Although we are good 10" behind in snowfall for the season in Eau Claire, folks in Seattle will likely see one winter storm drop over twice the amount of snow they see in an entire year.
The Pacific Northwest got a preview on Sunday picking up 2.5" of snow, but that is child's play as compared to what is coming tonight. A powerful Pacific storm system will pound the Northwest with enough cold air to bring a winter storm not seen in this part of the country since November 1985.
Typically, places like Seattle and Portland don't see much snowfall in a given year because they are so close to the coast. If you remember back in 2010 with the Olympic games in Vancouver, they had a tough time during portions of the games with events that were in lower elevations. Instead of snow they saw rain. This storm system will have no problem bringing a lot of snow to the region.
Check out this estimated snowfall graphic from our Skycast model.
It shows Seattle picking up an estimated 8-10" of snowfall. Look at up in the mountains! Over 60" of snow after all is said and done by this Friday in the Cascade and Bitteroot mountains. Many passes will likely be impassable. Here's are snowfall estimates from the National Weather Service where much of Washington and northern Oregon are under a winter storm warning. Keep in mind these numbers will be on top of about 1-3" of snow that will fall later today and tonight.
This will likely mean cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland will be at a stand still over the next 24-36 hours in this part of the country. This will be a very heavy and wet snow with all the moisture from the ocean and temperatures pretty close to freezing. What's most fascinating is that Seattle typically sees only 5.9" of snow a year. Portland only sees 2.4". In Eau Claire, we average 50.6" in a year! The difference is we have much more cold air to support snow. Portland is forecast to pick up 5-8" of snow with over a foot of snow possible in Seattle.
Things don't get any less active the rest of the week for folks out there. The snow will transition to rain on Thursday. Rain is likely through next weekend with temperatures getting up into the 40s. So the winter wonderland will only last for so long. I'm sure there will be a lot of coffee drinking this week with all the wet weather.