Updated: Sunday, 5:10 p.m.
The winter solstice is nearly here, and boy, it was indeed a dark day around the Sound, wasn't it? Even if you didn't have rain, it was overcast from start to finish, and seeing as we're nearing the so-called "shortest day of the year", there wasn't much daylight to be found behind that cloud deck anyway. While it rained pretty much from start to finish near the coast, Whatcom County, and closer to the Oregon state line, it wasn't terribly soggy around the metro area at all. That was thanks to the rain shadow effect of the Olympics Mountains: the warm front stalling over Western Washington came in directly from the west, so the western slopes of the Olympics picked up most of the precipitation. During this scenario, there is very little moisture left to wring out on the lee side of a mountain range, thus the fairly rain-free afternoon around Bellevue, Bothell and Black Diamond. Highs on Sunday maxed out close to 50 degrees, so it was mild around Puget Sound, too.
Things get colder but stay damp over the next 48 hours as the cold frontal portion of this system steers over us. Look for increasing rain for most of the region on Monday, and as the cold front goes by later in the day, the snow level will drop to about 3,000'. The passes will get increasingly tricky to traverse, and even Snoqualmie Pass will go from wet to white by Monday night.
Another round of wet weather comes by Tuesday with a quick moving December storm, so we'll be in for another round of lowland rain and mountain snow. Many of the resorts will pick up more than a foot of fresh snow by the middle of the week, building up a good base again as we approach the Christmas holiday.
Wednesday will be a drier day, but at the same time, it will get much cooler. A pocket of very cold air will drop down over Western Washington, and with a few showers left to work with, some of the rain showers will start to include some pockets of wet snow. The snow level will hover near 1,000', such that a few wet bursts of snow may drop in foothill communities like Snoqualmie Ridge, Arlington or North Bend. We dry out pretty quickly by Wednesday night, so any snowy-excitement will be short-lived. However, it gets COLD at that point. With overnight lows dropping well below freezing by Thursday morning, any snow that *does* fall will potentially lead to some icy driving on the Thursday morning commute.
Thursday afternoon looks dry, chilly and partly to mostly sunny, but now the models are hinting at yet another round of precipitation due in Friday. This batch could also include a shot of lowland snow, so it certainly will be something to watch as we get closer.
The pre-Christmas weekend just looks plain frigid, at least by northwest standards. Cold and clearing north winds appear to want to rev up by Saturday and Sunday, and if they materialize, we'll be dealing with some teeth-chattering wind chill readings in Port Townsend, Doe Bay and Anacortes as extra cold winter air funnels through the Fraser Valley. Lows will hit the 20s, and daytimes highs will only top out in the upper 30s, even in the metro area, but with winds potentially gusting to 30 mph or much more, it could end up feeling a lot colder than that by Christmas Eve.
Have a great night,
Meteorologist Shannon O'Donnell
The KOMO4 Forecast Team
Today's Record Temperatures