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Don’t put away those snow shovels just yet

First lowland snow of the year hits Bellingham

Snow falls near Whatcom Falls Park on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Bellingham.
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Snow falls near Whatcom Falls Park on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Bellingham.

Get ready for more snow this weekend.

Maybe.

After a day’s break, another arctic blast is due to hit Whatcom County Saturday night and early Sunday, forecasters said Friday.

“That’s our next threat of precipitation. If you get anything, it’ll be pretty light,” said meteorologist Ted Buehner at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Buehner said snow this early in November is unusual, but the record for earliest snowfall in Bellingham was Oct. 28, 1991, when 2 inches was recorded.

Meanwhile, Bellingham was poised to break a record for lowest maximum daily temperature. By 4 p.m. Friday, the mercury had only reached 34 degrees, far lower than the previous low maximum temperature set on Nov. 3, 1994.

Other records could fall this weekend, too, Buehner said. The record low maximum temperature for Nov. 4 is 38 degrees in 1973 and 40 degrees in 1973.

Western Washington is facing a mix of rain and snow starting Saturday night, turning to snow about 11 p.m., forecasters said. Rain and snow will be heavier south of Seattle and near the Olympic Mountains.

Increasing clouds are forecast Saturday with high temperatures in the low 40s. Overnight lows are expected near freezing. Canadian weather service Environment Canada is predicting a 60-70 percent chance of flurries overnight for Abbotsford, B.C., just north of Lynden and Sumas.

Little or no snow accumulation is expected in Bellingham.

What a Friday

Many Whatcom County residents awoke Friday morning to the first lowland snowfall of the season.

In a tweet about 11 a.m., the National Weather Service in Seattle said unofficial 24-hour snowfall totals in Whatcom County included 4.3 inches in Bellingham, 2.8 inches in Sudden Valley, 2.5 inches in Blaine, 0.3 inches in Lynden, and 0.7 inches in Ferndale. Farther east on Mount Baker Highway, Maple Falls got 4.5 inches, Glacier had 12 inches, and Mount Baker got 14 inches.

Heavy flurries began falling in Lynden by mid-afternoon Thursday. Snow remained on the ground at nightfall on the 1,000-foot peaks of hills surrounding Lake Whatcom as temperatures dipped below 40 degrees.

1102 Snow
Snow blankets houses near Whatcom Falls Park late Thursday night, Nov. 2, in Bellingham, Washington. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

Light snow began falling shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday at Bellingham International Airport and continued into early Friday.

Several schools started classes late Friday morning –Bellingham students already had a regularly scheduled day off.

Bellingham-area residents were posting photos on social media showing anywhere from an inch to 4 inches of snow on the ground.

Readers in Bellingham reported 5 inches near Lake Padden and in the Sunnyland neighborhood, 4 inches on Alabama Hill and 2-3 inches in Alderwood.

An overnight low of 30 degrees was recorded early Friday at the airport, the lowest temperature since March and the second straight night of below-freezing temperatures, according to the Weather Service.

Despite the strong winds, fewer than 500 Whatcom County homes and businesses were without electricity Friday morning, according to Puget Sound Energy’s online outage map. Scattered outages were reported Friday, affecting about 2,500 customers.

1103 Bham snow
Chris Ritchie and his son Rowan Ritchie, 5, slide down hill behind the Bellingham Public Library, Friday, Nov. 3. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Friday morning’s commute was treacherous on snow-covered and icy roads. Police and fire officials countywide reported two dozen or more vehicle wrecks and spin-outs, but none with serious injuries.

No major transportation delays were reported, although three flights were canceled and two were delayed at Bellingham International Airport. Most Whatcom Transportation Authority buses were running on time, but a few were on temporary detours, according to the agency’s tweets.

Friday’s snow marked a stark change in the fall weather pattern from just one week earlier on Oct. 27, when the high temperature of 65 degrees tied a 1990 record under sunny skies.

Meanwhile, long-range weather forecasts see a La Niña weather pattern developing over the next few months. Such a cooling of surface waters over the equatorial Pacific often means a cold, wet winter for the Northwest and a strong possibility of more lowland snow.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

Forecast for Bellingham

Saturday: Increasing clouds with a slight chance of rain and snow showers after 11 a.m. Highs in the low 40s. Chance of overnight rain and snow, lows near 33.

Sunday: Slight chance of rain and snow showers before 11 a.m., then turning to rain. Highs in the low 40s. Partly cloudy, lows near 33.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.

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