Twin winter storms slamming Pacific Northwest
An earlier storm created treacherous driving conditions over the weekend in Oregon.
January 17th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Twin winter storms slamming Pacific Northwest

Seattle could see one of its largest snowfalls since the 1940s as twin winter storms move over the Pacific Northwest during the next two days, according to the National Weather Service.

Between 5 and 9 inches of snow could hit the Seattle-Tacoma area Wednesday, with 6 to 10 inches falling before the storms pass early Thursday, said Dustin Guy, a meteorologist at the weather service's Seattle office.

Precipitation moving in from the south and west is combining with cold air moving south from Canada to create the heavy snowfall, Guy said. If snowfall amounts top 7 inches, the winter weather event will rank among Seattle's 10 worst since the early 1940s, he said.

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Mountainous areas of the Pacific Northwest will see even more snow, with the largest accumulations on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, according to the weather service.

From late Tuesday through early Thursday, 2 feet to 3.5 feet of snow is forecast for the mountains east of Seattle, Guy said.

The first storm was moving over the area Monday into the day Tuesday. The second and stronger storm was forecast to hit Wednesday into Thursday.

"It's pretty big when you get back-to-back storms like that," weather service meteorologist Roger Cloutier said.

Scattered areas near Easton, Washington, along Interstate 90 in the Cascade Mountains 55 miles east of Seattle, have already received 32 inches of snow, Cloutier said.

The snowfall extends south into Oregon, with as much as 18 inches forecast for the Bend area. CNN affiliate KTVZ-TV in Bend said an earlier round of snow over the weekend gave a boost to local ski resorts but also created treacherous driving conditions that left at least one motorist dead.

Those conditions were expected to worsen. Winter storm warnings were in effect across the region.

"Expect extreme travel difficulties to develop on Wednesday," the weather service said, advising those who must take to the roads during the storm to carry a flashlight, blankets and extra food and water.

CNN affiliate KING-TV in Seattle reported that some schools systems canceled or delayed classes Tuesday.

The heavy snowfall will be followed by rain, which could produce ponding water and urban flooding, Guy said.

"It's just gonna be a mess all around," he said of the coming few days in the Seattle area.

Cloutier said even though computer models are trending colder and colder for the coming days, the heavy snow will eventually pose a flooding threat.

"When the snow does finally melt, you can almost guarantee there will be some flooding somewhere," he said.

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Filed under: Oregon • Washington state • Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. jess

    always keep a contractor black garbage bag and a blanket in your vehicle. The bag will help block the wind.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. J0nx

    ROFL @ 6-10" of snow. That's like a light dusting anywhere else. I would drive my front wheel drive civic thru that amount and wouldn't even bother taking out the Jeep Wrangler to get thru that. We have yet to get ANY snow this year here in the DC area and most days in the past month have been in the 40's and 50's and even a few days in the 60's. Weird weather this year.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seattlite

      Annual snowfall in Seattle is ~5.5 inches, so getting 10-14 inches of snow in a day is like Armageddon in Seattle. More over Seattle is a hilly area with lots of bridges. Its nearly impossible to get on the hills when roads get icy and to make matters worse there are not enough snow ploughs (we rarely get crazy snow to justify spending)...and worse off people are not used to drive in snow here.
      Overall this is a major event for Seattle.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      I guess the mountains aren't hilly where people get around fine in feet of snow.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jess

    dont drive your smart car in snow. It isnt that smart!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tcr c2

    Snow camping time than when it settles im heading for rainier and than maybe oregons mt hood cant wait!! I love climbing in the snow its so peacefull and serene ,see you soon washington state and oregon!!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jess

    even the idiots have places to go.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mtngal

    We are in Woodinville, WA, 20 miles from downtown Seattle. Has been snowing since 8am. It's getting pretty deep. Have not seen a snow plow yet today. For those of you in places where snow is the norm, for us around Seattle, it isn't the snow, it's the fact that there are not many snow plows and lots of hills and back roads.
    Can't wait until this passes to get to Wenatchee (east side of Cascades) to ski. Mission Ridge will have tons of powder!!! yahooo!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Karen

    Here in Pa when we get a snowstorm. Everybody runs out and buys milk,bread and eggs. I have never understood it. I guess they plan on eating only French Toast. Not me i buy junk food.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sarah

    Hey! Don't call us sissy's! We don't have snow tires, we have huge hills, not enough snow plows because this happens once a year. Think about that before you call us sissy's!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. goodmin123

    this is just stupid jeez heres a good headline (Oregon and Washington Close Schools While Alaska keeps on going at -30 and 200 Inches of snow) What a bunch of lazy people OMG theres an inch of snow we are gonna die!!! What stupid states

    January 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendie

      Again...shut up

      January 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kym

    Having grown up in the FIfe/Puyallup area I understand the significance of these storms. However, having lived in Massachusetts for the last 10 years this article has me and my students laughing. The thought of 7" of snow making it one of the worst storms since the 1940's is hysterical when 7" of snow goes in the record books when out here it doesn't even guarantee a snow day.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wendie

    Reporting from Everett, Washington...home of the convergence zone.

    It has been snowing all morning and it still is coming down.

    People laugh at the the way the PNW handles snow. But we laugh when California can't handle the rain.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. goodmin123

    wow and no snowplow excuse HELLO!!! you live right below Places that get some of the biggest snow falls in the world!! MT.baker anyone duh! you know its gonna happen so prepare for it

    January 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendie

      Oh shut up goodmin.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kc_and_fa

    Is that a beer truck in the picture? No problems 🙂

    January 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Innkahoots

      Sorry, but I think it's a icecream truck. Couldn't suck any worse than that, huh? But I like how you think. :}

      January 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    I live near downtown Seatte. Regarding the difficulties we have with relatively small amounts of snow, there are a few issues. Our temperature here never gets very far below freezing, and usually this time of year it will freeze at night, then go to the mid-high 30's during the day. So, when we get enough snow that it doesn't melt away completely during the day (our typical snow), we end up with melt-water freezing in heavy layers, leading to a lot of ice. Also, besides San Francisco, we have the hilliest city I know of in the country. When downtown is surrounded by 15 degree grades covered in sheet-ice, your commute gets pretty hazardous. We end up with busses jack-knifing on major urban corridors every time we get heavy snow. Not to mention many people here don't own snow chains or studded tires. It's just a mess all around.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jess

    are snow plows in minnesnowta need the work. We havent had much for them to do yet.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
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