Monday, January 16, 2012

Major winter storm 
raging across Pacific Northwest

A reader photo from Kennewick, WA shows up to 6" by late morning
and yes, students... they STILL had school despite all this snow.
12:17 PM PST 1/18/12 | This report submitted by Forecaster Jason Warren, collaborating with our team in Washington State on updates for the Pacific Northwest page.

A major winter storm continues across the Pacific Northwest. Milder air streaming northward across OR is keeping the lower elevations rain, with heavy snow continuing in the mountains. Strong winds are pounding the OR coast with gusts up to 95 mph being reported near Newport.

Winter storm warnings continue for much of WA, OR, and ID with heavy rain and mountains snows expected to continue into tonight. Some of the mountain passes are closed for avalanche control. Check the NWS website for the latest weather information:

"So much snow, you're not gonna 
find a stick to shake at it."
-Forecaster Mark Ingalls, Kennewick WA

Pacific Northwest (Facebook) | Tri-Cities Weather (SE Washington)

Seattle | Portland | Medford | Pendleton | Spokane | Boise

Latest NWS Watches and Warnings
7:30 PM PST 1/17/12 |  A SIGHT YOU SELDOM SEE: Multi-day storm to drop 6-12" in some metro areas, with a storm total of 12 inches possible in Seattle, by Wednesday night, 2 feet+ in the Cascades and Blue Mountains, near 40 inches in high mountain passes between Idaho and Montana.

An unusual combination of an Arctic air mass wedged into the region being "overrun" by moisture from a storm impacting  the Oregon coast today will produce heavy snow throughout much of the Northwest into Wednesday. Consult your nearest NWS forecast office for the latest watches and warnings on this dangerous storm. We have also posted links to current Winter Storm Warnings in our Pacific Northwest facebook page.

For a different regional view on storm dynamics, you can view this blogsite operated by an Atmospheric Science Professor at the University of Washington. For a local view on expected snowfall in Seattle as of last night, you can visit this website by a UW Meteorology student.  

6:05 AM PST 1/17/12 | At 6:20 AM Pacific Time, (9:20 AM Eastern), Forecaster Mark will be part of a live radio interview, in the studios of 102.7 KORD in Kennewick Washington to report on the snowstorm in that region. Join us for the live broadcast online in a few minutes.

6:00 AM PST 1/17/12 | A complex storm system moving across Oregon today into Wednesday, in conjunction with an "Big Sky" Arctic air mass crawling into Montana will create a wintry maelstrom of 6 to 12 inches of snow across numerous metro areas of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Seattle may reach or exceed 9 inhes, Lesser amounts are expected from Portland to Pendleton and southward to Medford, but still a significant snow event is possible in that region, with 4 or more inches in the next 24 hours. 

Forecaster Mark Ingalls of the Tri-Cities area in the Mid-Columbia Basin reports on his weather blog for the region this one storm will produce that "So much're not gonna be able to find a stick to shake at it." For portions of Washington State, some of the Winter Storm Watches have been upgraded to warnings as shown in the NWS Western Region advisory map.   

Current NWS Advisories from the Pendleton, Oregon NWS are as follows...Winter Storm Watch in effect for Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, NW Umatilla and N Morrow Counties. A Winter Storm Warning in effect for S and E Umatilla and S Morrow Counties.

A pink Pendleton, Oregon NWS map
 indicating Winter Storm Warnings. 
Why is this storm such a big deal for portions of the Northwest such as the Tri-Cities? First, because this area is a much more arid climate than even the Cascades, 6 inches of snow is a major precipitation event, despite being in a latitude more north than Boston, MA. Second, as Mark says on his blog, "being in the desert, sticks are hard to find as it is." 

Now dump a bunch of snow...and it's even more challenging!

For those traveling to this region from the Eastern U.S., expect ground and air delays coming into SeaTac and Vancouver. Spill over effects will be felt across the nation as delayed or canceled flights from Seattle will impact travelers in eastern airports. Feel free to report your travel observations or suggestions if commuting in the region. Having bisected all of Washington State recently in a team road trip, Forecasters Mark, Aaron and Mr. Foot can vouch for how difficult the mountain passes are on a foggy day, let alone during a snowstorm.

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