WeatherWatcher: Surprise windstorm, cold air and a slight change of snow this week

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


Snow Dusting in Shoreline, WA
Photo by Carl Dinse

A significant windstorm moved into the region Monday afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service in Seattle was forecasting a breezy to windy evening, but nothing more than 40mph. They had a wind advisory in effect from 6pm Monday evening to 6am Tuesday morning. Around 2:30pm that tone changed, and the wind advisory became in effect immediately.

Wind-whipped water on the Salish Sea as the storm moved in
around Jefferson Head. Photo by Jan Hansen

The storm's first peak occurred at about 4:30-4:45pm Monday afternoon. Wind gusts in most areas reached 35mph but some exposed areas in Shoreline saw gusts up to 55mph. Paine Field in Everett (which is our closest airport weather station) recorded a peak gust of 52mph at about the same time. At the height of the storm close to 5,700 Seattle city light customers were without power, with the majority of them in the Hillwood and Richmond Beach neighborhoods.

The wind advisory remains in effect until 6am Tuesday morning, but most of the wind activity has already died down. A westerly surge of winds 45-60mph is still possible but is not expected to make it as far south as Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. 

Return of cold, with a slight chance of snow: Tuesday is a transition day with some showers and breezy winds expected. In the afternoon or evening hours the winds should change direction from southwest to north-northeast. When this direction change happens, cold air will start spilling into the region. Low temperatures Tuesday night into Wednesday are expected to drop into the 20's and any left-over showers will fall as snow. 

Accumulations Wednesday morning are expected to be minimal, from nothing at all to possibly a trace to an inch at most. Temperatures Wednesday will break the freezing mark and make it up to the upper 30's, with clearing skies. The sun should help clear the streets of any snow that does accumulate.

Wednesday night through Friday afternoon we are expecting clear skies, with temperatures struggling to get above freezing. Lows are expected to be near 20°F. Our next storms start to move in Friday evening and through the weekend. Cold air is expected to continue flowing into the region when these storms arrive so most of the precipitation could be in the form of snow.

We'll have to keep an eye on the forecast through mid-week to see how things develop for the coming weekend. Right now, it looks like this cold arctic-like weather pattern could continue through the first week of March. 

Bottom line: little chance of snow for now. This weekend, however could be a different story. Cold is certain, and expect freezing temperatures to be likely from Tuesday night on forward for a week or two.

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