Chance of lowland winter snow highest in years

Glenn Farley reports.

SEATTLE -- Snow clouds are on the horizon for the second half of the winter in the Western Washington with a La Nina-generated potential for lowland snow sticking for the first time in four years.

KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott sees the season setting up much like it did in the winter of 2008 and 2009. A "snowmageddon" lasted weeks that winter which paralyzed much of Seattle. The city's reaction to it is credited for costing then-Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels his job.

Data from the National Climate Prediction Center shows colder-than-normal temperatures along with high precipitation levels forecast for January, February and March.  November, December and January show equal chances of above or below temperatures for the region.

The trend line has been steadily warming for decades according to state climatologist Nick Bond. Average daily lows that remained at or near freezing in 1949 and 1950 have hovered in the upper 30s and low 40s since the 1990s.

Snowfall recorded at Sea-Tac Airport saw totals in 1950 and 1969 between 60 and 70 inches. ">But the overall trend line is down, with 2009 creating the last "spike" at just over 20 inches.

Already, this season has seen a shift from a so-called "neutral year" to a La Nina winter which typically brings colder and wetter conditions to the Pacific Northwest.

"You have to bring a lot of things together to get lowland snow in Puget Sound," says Marriott, "You can have the cold air and not have the moisture, or vice versa." 


Copyright 2016 KING


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