Why does Western Washington get different amounts of snowfall?

When we think of climate, we're usually talking about something big. But what drove the big differences in our snow totals this morning is something a lot smaller.

SEATTLE - Why do some areas of Puget Sound always seem to get hit with more snow than others?

Close to the waters of Puget Sound, Seattle saw just an inch of snow overnight Monday, but colder temperatures further inland and at higher elevations saw much more. Bonney Lake, which saw snow for much of Sunday, had 14 inches by Monday morning. 

We usually think of climate in broad terms, but meteorologists say in regions affected by hilly terrain and lots of water, microclimates come into play.

"The big issue was temperatures, temperatures were marginal for snow," said Professor Cliff Mass, a research meteorologist for the University of Washington.

But other things are also at play. 

"Intensity tends to make a big difference," said Mass. "If you're right on the edge between rain and snow, if you have more intensity, the snow that's falling from above will melt and cool the air below. With enough intensity, that can drive the snow level and freezing level down to the ground. So, all of these factors came in to create a very complex of snow in the region over the last day."

Copyright 2017 KING


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