Parade of potent storms to bring wet weather to Western Washington


Get your rain gear out — and keep it out.

A parade of potent storms will soak Western Washington as we knock on December's doorstep, seemingly making up for the relatively dry and quiet November.

The first in the series of storms will push in light rain starting at the coast Thursday morning and work inland through the afternoon.

With low temperatures hovering around freezing, eastern Grays Harbor, Mason, Thurston, Lewis and southern Kitsap counties could see a mix of wintry precipitation as the system rolls through. Precipitation will be light with this front, so the weather service expects little to no accumulation if snow does develop in these areas.

As light rain wets pavement across Western Washington Thursday, temperatures will moderate in the mid-40s.

Snow elevations will rise from around 1,500 feet to 2,500 feet Thursday evening, allowing Stevens and Snoqualmie passes to pick up a quick 3 to 5 inches by Thursday night.

On the heels of the first system, a "more vigorous" one will reach Western Washington on Friday, appropriately starting December off with lowland rain, gusty winds and significant mountain snow.

With snow elevations expected to be around 2,000 to 2,500 feet, the weather service has issued a storm warning for 24 to 36 inches of snow in the Cascades. The warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Friday through 4 a.m. Sunday, during which travel is expected to be "very difficult."

The weather service also issued a wintry weather advisory for up to 16 inches of snow in the Olympics from 4 a.m. Friday through 4 a.m. Saturday.

Mountain snow will impact Interstate 90 and Highways 97, 2 and 12.

Another system (if you're counting, this is the third) will roll into the region Saturday evening, bringing "copious" amounts of moisture, the weather service said.

Breezy conditions and mountain snow will accompany this front, although snow elevations look to rise to around 4,000 feet during this time, which will limit accumulation to higher elevations. Heavy rain in the lower mountain elevations may lead to rising river and snowmelt runoff, the weather service said.

Yet another system, the first of two atmospheric rivers, will saturate the area with drenching rain on Sunday, with the heaviest downpours expected in the Olympic mountains and basins and the Cascades.

Snow elevations will continue to rise above 6,000 feet, allowing for heavy rain to drive local rivers, like the Skokomish, to flood stages.

A second atmospheric river is expected to push a swath of warm moisture from the Pacific into Western Washington Monday into Wednesday.

Temperatures will warm above 50 degrees, snow elevations will rise to at least 7,000 feet and another round of gusty winds and heavy rainfall is likely to elevate already gushing rivers.