A well-known University of Washington professor says the weather system headed toward Washington this weekend is likely to turn into a major snowstorm.
Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at UW, says low pressure centered at the southwest corner of the state will pull cold air down from Canada while pushing moist air up into the atmosphere, creating what he calls a “perfect snowstorm situation.”
On his Weather and Climate blog, he’s predicting several inches of fresh snow in the Puget Sound region and more at higher elevations.
According to Mass, the first push of this system shouldn’t have much of an effect on the Yakima Valley, but a second pulse Saturday is expected to cross the Cascades and leave several inches of snow in the Yakima Valley, with some areas predicted to see as much as 5 inches.
The National Weather Service agrees with Mass, sort of. Their models suggest we are likely to see some snow across the Cascades and the Yakima Valley over the weekend, but the NWS says it’s uncertain how much to expect.
The current forecast calls for 1 to 3 inches of new snow accumulation on Friday and 1 to 3 inches on Saturday in Yakima. There’s a 90 percent chance of snow on Friday night and a 50 percent chance of snow on Saturday.
It’s early next week that Mass predicts the state will see a “snow apocalypse.” A second storm starting Monday is forecast to leave the Puget Sound region under an 18- to 24-inch blanket of snow. Parts of Yakima County are forecast to see nearly a foot — or as Mass phrased it, “One of the greatest snow events in decades.”
Mass says there’s a lot of uncertainty about the second snowfall, and the National Weather Service is much more conservative about its predictions for next week. The NWS says there’s a chance conditions could develop to bring more snow Saturday through Wednesday, but their forecast suggests no more than 2 to 3 inches of snow “even in the heaviest snowfall locations.”