A fairly potent storm more suited toward winter than spring is rapidly moving toward Vancouver Island, set to bring a solid dose of rain, wind and mountain snows. And it might set the stage for a little snow in spots down in the lowlands on its first full day in charge Thursday.
The rain is already here and it will remain rainy overnight, but for the lowlands, the wind will be the most noticeable.
The advisories have been issued in two prongs -- before the storm's center of low pressure arrives around midday Wednesday and after it passes. Before the low arrives, the coast and Northwest Interior have a Wind Advisory in effect from 11 p.m. tonight to 11 a.m. Wednesday for gusts up to 45-50 mph. Then at 11 a.m., a High Wind Watch goes into effect for that Northwest Interior area only for potential gusts to 60 mph. At this point, no advisories have been issued for the Puget Sound area, but I suspect they might be later Tuesday night.
As for timing, southeasterly winds should pick up along the coast and Northwest Interior late Tuesday evening and reach their gusts of 40-50 mph starting around 2 a.m and stay there through early Wednesday morning. For the Northwest Interior, gusts could then increase to 55-60 mph for the afternoon, tapering off in the late evening.
For the Puget Sound and southwestern Washington areas, southerly winds will begin to increase around 11 a.m., peaking around the 2-5 p.m. time frame at about 40-45 mph and then taper off after 8 p.m.
Up in the mountains, it's gobs and gobs of snow. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from 11 p.m Tuesday through 5 a.m. Thursday for as much as 12-15 inches of snow in the passes and 2-3 feet of snow along the Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier areas. If you have to get over the pass, you might have a brief window of warmer air to get through late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning but pass conditions will rapidly deteriorate as we get into Wednesday afternoon.
But once that main front passes Wednesday evening doesn't mean the weather gets much calmer...
Cold, unstable air will rush in behind the storm's cold front, making for a potentially very active Thursday as well. This time, we'll be dealing with scattered heavy showers with possible thunderstorms and -- get this -- maybe even some thundersnow in the Puget Sound Convergence Zone areas.
Snow levels will fall to about 500-750 feet late Wednesday and remain there through Thursday meaning we could see some rain/snow mix showers down to sea-level and snow showers in the foothills although little to no accumulations expected there.
But forecast models indicate conditions favorable for a convergence zone and that if strong enough, could bring some minor accumulations to the areas both in the zone and around 500 feet, like Alderwood, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Snohomish, and South Everett. (Yes, this is the first full day of spring!) Highs will generally be in the mid 40s but could be stuck near 40 in the zone areas.
We do finally calm down on Friday with some scattered early showers then drying late. Another wave of light rain is due in on Saturday but then it looks dry for Sunday through Tuesday with highs around 50. Looks like spring will finally rule the roost by then, but boy, what a fight for control!