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Forecaster: Chances of a white Christmas in Whatcom slim

Snowfall Dec. 18, 2016

Light snow fell across Whatcom County Sunday morning, Dec. 18, 2016. It's the last day of sub-freezing temperatures as a mild system moves in with warmer, wet weather from the the south.
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Light snow fell across Whatcom County Sunday morning, Dec. 18, 2016. It's the last day of sub-freezing temperatures as a mild system moves in with warmer, wet weather from the the south.

If all the snow from last week had you dreaming of a white Christmas in lowland Whatcom County, don’t get your hopes up.

It’s going to melt.

“It’s going to be a fairly normal weather pattern for a week to 10 days,” said meteorologist Mike McFarland at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “The snow level might come fairly low – about 1,500 feet – but that’s a lot higher than sea level.”

A mixture of snow and rain was forecast for overnight Sunday, turning to rain by Monday with a south to southeast breeze at 20 to 30 mph and gusts to 45 mph. A wind advisory was issued from 10 p.m. Sunday to 10 a.m. Monday.

After Sunday’s snowfall, temperatures are expected to rise to the high 40s Monday as a warmer low-pressure system overpowers the British Columbia chill that has held Northwest Washington in its icy fist for more than a week. Daytime temperatures remained below freezing last week, although no temperature records were broken.

It was 27 degrees at 8:03 a.m. with light snow Sunday at Bellingham International Airport.

Expect rain or showers for the rest of the week and into the weekend, with daytime highs in the mid-40s and lows in the mid-30s, McFarland said.

McFarland said a series of storm fronts coming off the Pacific Ocean are strong enough to interrupt a high-pressure system that was sending cold air from the Fraser Valley south into Western Washington.

“The whole pattern is reversed and the cold weather won’t last,” he said. “It’ll be well above freezing because it will be quite breezy.”

Snow could linger in Cascades foothills valleys such as Maple Falls, Glacier or Concrete, he said.

“It’ll certainly seem quite mild (Monday) as the front goes through,” McFarland said.

Light flurries fell Sunday morning, dusting much of Whatcom County with an inch or less of snow.

Roads were slippery in places, and several minor wrecks were reported, but no major traffic incidents were reported in Bellingham and Whatcom County. A rollover crash about noon Sunday blocked northbound Interstate 5 near Portal Way for about an hour.

Several crashes were reported about 4 p.m. Sunday along Hannegan Road north of Bellingham.

A Bellingham woman was killed when her pickup flipped into a water-filled ditch about 6:20 a.m. Sunday on Highway 20 near LaConner-Whitney Road in Skagit County.

Also in Skagit County, all lanes of northbound Interstate 5 near milepost 228 at George Hopper Road in Mount Vernon were blocked by a weather-related crash about 6:15 a.m. Sunday. Social media comments indicated that the wreck may have involved more than a dozen vehicles.

The state Department of Transportation reported that fire and aid, as well as police officers, were dispatched. The road was open by 7:30 a.m., the DOT said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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