Hello, winter!?! Season's first (wet) snowfall makes early appearance
SEATTLE -- The Halloween candy is still in nearly full in buckets and Thanksgiving shopping is weeks away -- we're even still on Daylight Saving Time! -- but parts of Western Washington already have their first snowfall of the 2017 winter season.
Wet snow fell across much of Western Washington Friday morning above a few hundred feet as a cold air blew in from the Fraser River Valley overnight mixed with some moderately heavy showers.
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In the Puget Sound region, reports of a dusting of snow are in from the hilltops of West Seattle, Shoreline, Woodinville, Mukilteo, Stanwood, Bellevue, Port Orchard and Bainbridge Island, with non-sticking snow or rain/snow mix in lower elevations. With the relatively warm temperatures near 50 over the past week, road temperatures were still well above freezing and the slushy snow didn't really stick to the roads in the main city areas.
But the snow and low visbilties did create some delays at Sea-Tac Airport.
It was a different story farther north. Many areas in Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands had accumulating snow thanks to chilly northeast winds blowing out of the Fraser River Valley to 30-45 mph, dropping temperatures to freezing.
Photos showed as much as 1-5 inches of snow around Bellingham and Ferndale.
Sticking snow was also reported around Port Angeles where schools were on a 2 hour delay.
In this weather pattern, the northern Olympic Peninsula is in a bit of a snow belt where those northeast winds hit the northern slopes of the Olympic Mountains and squeeze out moisture -- in this case, it's cold enough for snow. Think of it as a reverse Olympic Rain Shadow effect.
A band of heavy showers then moved south into the South Sound and Olympia area, briefly dropping about an inch of slushy snow there.
The showers causing the snow early Friday morning will slide south and taper off from the north as we get into the mid-morning hours with temperatures rebounding back into the 40s, quickly melting whatever little snow is out there. A few remaining isolated rain or rain/snow mix showers are possible through the rest of the day with no accumulations.
After a calm but cool Saturday, we have a chance of a similar snow event above a few hundred feet Saturday night into early Sunday as another chilly weather system swings through.
Is this the earliest snow on record?
It is a very early season snow, but we've had earlier snows before. October 27, 1971 holds the title for the earliest measurable snow on record. And officially despite snow at Sea-Tac Airport, it's only counted as a "trace" and is not then considered measurable snow.
Is this a sign of a snowy winter?
Snow fans have to like the trend that snow would fall this early. With a La Nina winter expected, typically we would favor a snowier winter than usual. But the National Weather Service points out that early season snows don't always translate into snowy winters:
This particular chilly pattern holds through the weekend, then we warm back up into the 50s for the balance of the week.