The snow looks nice now, but S. Puget Sound should prepare for nastier winter weather

Jared Brown

November hasn’t even ended, and it’s already starting to feel a lot like Christmas around the south Puget Sound. Snow is falling, and temperatures are below freezing, but don’t expect the weather to get too festive around Olympia and Tacoma.

While other areas of northwest Washington state are enjoying several inches of snow, the south Puget Sound area will pick up less than an inch of snow before precipitation transitions to rain on Tuesday evening, National Weather Service Seattle meteorologist Samantha Borth told McClatchy News.

But Tuesday won’t be the end of the wintry weather for the region this week, either — it just won’t be in the form people may want.

The Weather Service is forecasting a mix of rain and snow throughout the rest of the week, but cold weather is likely to turn any precipitation into freezing rain and ice rather than a snowy wonderland.

“We are looking at some light snow accumulations again (around south Puget Sound),” Borth said. “Down south, I would say you do have the potential, especially Wednesday night into Thursday, for potentially refreezing down there.”

Refreezing will occur because of unseasonably cold temperatures in northwest Washington. The forecast high for Seattle-Tacoma Airport on Tuesday is 36 degrees — the Seattle region has experienced colder weather on Nov. 29 just four other times, with the most recent being 35 degrees in 2015.

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Borth said the current temperatures resemble weather typically seen in January or February.

“We have this low-pressure system that’s moved in over the area,” Borth said. “So it’s generally filtering in cold air to the region. Just with the setup that we’ve got, we’re like about a couple of degrees below normal.”

Mountain travel

While the south Puget Sound region is escaping the worst of the snow, Borth recommended against driving eastward toward the Cascade Mountains. The Cascades are forecast to receive up to two feet of snow throughout the week, and although no mountain passes are currently closed, Borth said she could see that occurring later this week.

You can check road and pass conditions, such as Snoqualmie and White Passes, on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s real-time mountain pass map.

The Weather Service tweeted a list of tips last week to prepare you and your car for inclement weather.

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  • Check that your tires, battery, wiper blades, brakes, heater, fluids and lights are functioning correctly and not in need of repair.

  • Have a full tank of gas and chains.

  • Bring an emergency supply kit. This includes a first aid kit, food, water, a flashlight, a phone charger, blankets, warm clothes and jumper cables.

  • Visit before you travel, and watch WSDOT’s real-time road conditions map.