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Snow possible for holiday; bone-chilling weather starts 2017

Brad Oxford clears the sidewalk in front of his building the Carnation Oxford Building in Ferndale, Dec. 12, 2016.
Brad Oxford clears the sidewalk in front of his building the Carnation Oxford Building in Ferndale, Dec. 12, 2016. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Those scarves, sweaters, mittens and hats you received for the holidays are going to come in handy next week as a blast of arctic air blows south into Whatcom County, pushing temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal, forecasters said.

Several days of freezing weather, and possibly strong winds, will come on the heels of rain or snow that’s expected New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, said Allen Kam, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“It could get pretty darn cold the first of next week. We could get some snow over the holiday weekend. You could have several days in the high 20s, and it could be windy with lows in the teens,” Kam said. Lowlands north of Bellingham could see the lowest temperatures as frigid weather swaggers south out of the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia.

Kam said current climate models for next week remain fluid, but at least a brief cold snap to start 2017 appears fairly certain. The cold could linger into the next week, he said, adding there’s always the possibility of more lowland snow to accompany extended periods of cold weather.

It could get pretty darn cold the first of next week.

Allen Kam, National Weather Service

“It still looks like we have a huge ridge over the northeast Pacific that’s punching up into Alaska,” Kam said. “It’s like a little freeway for the cold air.”

Kam said it’s uncertain whether the weak La Niña pattern is influencing the weather, but in October the weather service forecast a colder-than-normal winter with above-normal precipitation.

Monthly climate data was incomplete for December, but Kam said daytime high temperatures are far below normal. Bellingham’s average December high temperature is 45 degrees, according to the U.S. Climate Data Center, which keeps historical records.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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