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New forecast sees continued cold weather, less snow

Haggen grocery store clerk Lacey Starkovich collects carts during the cold weather in Ferndale, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Starkovich says she stays warm by wearing lots of layers and warming up inside the store between trips.
Haggen grocery store clerk Lacey Starkovich collects carts during the cold weather in Ferndale, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Starkovich says she stays warm by wearing lots of layers and warming up inside the store between trips. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Forecasters are now predicting the possibility of less snow Friday than was previously expected.

“It’s pushed back a little later,” said meteorologist Jeff Michalski at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “The onset of precipitation could be a little slower.”

Just before noon Thursday, the temperature at Bellingham International Airport was 30 degrees, with north-northeast winds at 22 mph, gusting to 31.

Those north-northeast winds are what’s keeping daytime temperatures barely above freezing in Whatcom County, as air barrels south from the Fraser River Valley of frigid British Columbia, Michalski said. Wednesday’s high was 32 degrees, with an overnight low of 24.

In Whatcom County, the average high temperature for December is 45 degrees, according to U.S. Climate Data, a government agency that keeps historical records.

If temperatures do rise, however, Friday morning commuters could expect a “wintry mix” of snow, rain and freezing rain, according to the weather service’s Thursday afternoon forecast. Accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is possible, Michalski said. If temperatures rise, rain is likely for the rest of Friday afternoon and evening.

Farther south, the Seattle and Olympia areas could see a greater accumulation of snow, and eventually warmer temperatures, as the moisture-laden warm front arrives. Freezing rain is possible farther south, but unlikely in Whatcom County, Michalski said.

“It could be a little slower changeover to rain for you,” Michalski said. “There’s that strong northeast wind. That’s a concern. If the winds don’t switch south, it will keep temperatures below freezing.”

Michalski said that lowland Whatcom County may get an additional chance of snow on Sunday, as the chilly temperatures gripping the region are expected to linger into next week and possibly longer.

“We’ll get another blast of Fraser River outflow, and you’ll still have a threat of snow showers. The good news is that Mount Baker should get plenty of snow.”

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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