Snow likely; winter storm watch issued for Western Washington

Forecasters have issued a winter storm watch for Thursday and Friday as a storm approaches that could snarl roads for commuters across Western Washington.

Up to 12 hours of snowfall is forecast as a storm approaches from the south, mixing with cold air from British Columbia that’s chilled Whatcom County for several days.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Seattle said that snowfall is possible in the lowlands throughout the Puget Sound region. Accumulation of up to 7 inches is possible in the South Sound, with 2 to 4 inches in the Bellingham area.

Snow will begin falling earlier Thursday in southern Western Washington and arrive in Bellingham by evening, said meteorologist Mike McFarland. The winter storm watch is in effect from 7 a.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday.

“It has a good chance of turning to rain everywhere except for Bellingham. It’ll be messy up there,” McFarland said. He said accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible Thursday night, with another 1 to 2 inches Friday morning.

McFarland said it’s possible the snow will remain and cold air will linger in Whatcom County, with daytime highs in the upper 30s and overnight lows in the low to mid-30s, because the storm coming from the south might not be strong enough to “scour” cold air from this week’s frigid blast out of the Fraser River Valley.

Cold air could stay through the weekend, McFarland said.

He said some melting is possible if rain falls during the day Friday and through the weekend.

More snow is forecast in the mountains, with accumulations of 1 to 2 feet Thursday and Friday at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Avalanche danger remains at the moderate level throughout the North Cascades, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty