More Pacific Northwest Snow Ahead, Including Seattle and Portland, Followed By Another Midwest, Northeast Wintry Mess

Jonathan Erdman
Published: February 7, 2019
The setup for more snow in lower elevations of the Pacific Northwest Friday into Saturday.

More snow is headed toward the Pacific Northwest Friday and Saturday, just days after snarling travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East this weekend into next week.

A snow sculpture is dressed as the fish mongers working behind as people walk into the Pike Place Market in near-freezing weather Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Seattle. Winter weather closed schools and disrupted travel across much of the West, with ice and snow stretching from Seattle to Arizona.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Sunday and Monday, the Seattle-Tacoma metro area picked up a blanket of snow, ranging from a few inches near Puget Sound to more than 6 inches in the Cascade foothills and north of downtown, snarling travel and canceling over 200 flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Light snow from Winter Storm Lucian also led to slippery roads in Oregon's Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge, including Portland and Salem.

Just as the remaining ice or slush from that system tries to melt, another strong jet-stream disturbance will plunge southward out of western Canada and intensify near the Pacific Northwest coast by Friday.

This southward storm path from Canada, as opposed to a more conventional west-to-east path from the Pacific Ocean, typically allows any cold air in the Northwest to stay in place, even west of the Cascades, rather than getting scoured out by milder Pacific Ocean air, as the National Weather Service office in Sacramento, California, pointed out Wednesday.

(MORE: The Birthplace of western Winter Storms Makes A Difference

Winter Storm Alerts

The NWS has already posted winter storm watches in parts of Washington state, Idaho, eastern Oregon and western Montana. These watches include the entire Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia corridor, and the city of Spokane, Washington.

Latest Winter Weather Alerts

Winter storm watches are also in effect for California's Sierra and northern Coastal Ranges.

Snowfall Forecast in the West

Snowfall will be widespread across the West, including even the lower elevations of Seattle and Salt Lake City.

Snow is likely up and down the Interstate 5 corridor of western Washington and possibly western Oregon.

Parts of the Seattle metro area could pick up over 6 inches of snow, with valley floor accumulations likely in most areas of western Washington. Most Cascade foothill and mountain locations should see at least 6 inches of snow.

Snowfall Forecast Friday-Saturday

Snow may fall at elevations as low as 500 feet in far northwest California, and as low as 3,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, where multiple feet of snow is expected through the weekend.

Strong winds may produce areas of blowing and drifting snow, particularly over the Sierra, Siskiyous and open country of eastern Washington.

At least five inches of snow will fall in Utah's Wasatch and Uinta mountains and in Idaho's Sawtooth and southern Bitterroot ranges.

This colder pattern is expected to remain in place in the West into much of next week, with potentially more rounds of low-elevation snow.

(MORE: February Temperature Outlook)

In the Northwest, high temperatures might struggle to rise much above freezing next week, and morning low temperatures will likely dip well below freezing.

This may lead to refreezing of roads at night after some thawing during the day, potentially leading to significant travel disruptions.

Measurable snow typically falls only three to four days per year, on average, in both Seattle and Portland. Each of these cities could see that many days, or more, of snow through next week.

Central, Eastern Wintry Mess

Ahead of the main low pressure system, an initial impulse of jet-stream energy and moisture will glide over cold air in place to produce mainly light snow or sleet beginning Sunday night in the Midwest, spreading to the East Monday.

By late Sunday, a stripe of freezing rain may also develop from eastern Kansas through Missouri and into the Ohio Valley.

This might make for a difficult Monday morning commute in some spots, possibly including St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Sunday Night's Outlook

A stronger impulse of jet-stream energy may then spin up a stronger area of low pressure in the Midwest late Monday into Tuesday, which could linger in parts of the East next Wednesday.

This could bring heavier snow and strong winds to parts of the Midwest and East in the first half of next week.

(FORECAST: 7-Day U.S. Rain/Snow Maps)

Tuesday's Outlook

The most likely area for heavy snow is across the Upper Midwest, and to a lesser extent in the Northeast. It is too early to talk about snowfall forecasts since the exact track of this system isn't yet being nailed down.

Check back to for updates to this forecast as the details come into focus over the next several days.

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