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Weekend rain brings warmer weather, snow for the mountains, and maybe a little ice

Rain, sleet and snow: What’s the difference?

Winter weather is here, but do you know the difference between cold-weather phenomena?
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Winter weather is here, but do you know the difference between cold-weather phenomena?

Clouds and rain this weekend will break the frosty chill that’s gripped Western Washington for the past several days and bring more normal December weather to Whatcom County.

But the North Cascades should see snow and Lynden-area residents could see a brief period of freezing rain or even snow during the transition.

“There are several fronts over the next week that should put down plenty of snow” in the mountains, said Mike McFarland at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“I’d be surprised if people aren’t skiing by next weekend,” he said.

That’s good news for Mt. Baker Ski Area, where plans for a November opening were dashed by several days of warm weather and rain that eroded its snow base.

Forecasts call for 12 to 18 inches of snow through Sunday, with greater accumulations through the week.

“This cold dry weather pattern should start breaking down ... with snow moving in for Friday/Saturday,” the Mt. Baker Ski Area said at its website. “Then things really get rolling early next week with several days of heavy snowfall expected at Baker — with several feet of new snow forecasted!”

Meteorologists are forecasting rain for the Bellingham area Friday night, with overnight temperatures well above freezing.

But their counterparts at Environment Canada in Vancouver predict freezing temperatures along the U.S.-Canada border and a chance of freezing rain and snow.

Rain showers or wet flurries are forecast overnight and Saturday for Abbotsford, B.C., with temperatures around freezing, according to Environment Canada.

Canadian forecasters have issued a statement warning Fraser Valley communities of that possibility.

Northern Whatcom County’s weather often reflects the influence of conditions in B.C., and several times in the past few years the North County has endured ice storms and heavy wind-driven snowfall that spared areas closer to Bellingham.

But McFarland said he’d be surprised if overnight weather causes trouble in the border lowlands between Blaine and Sumas.

“If something happens, I don’t think it will be very significant,” McFarland said. “For a few minutes, you might see a little sleet.”

Saturday will be mostly dry, McFarland said, and a series of storms should sweep the lowlands with rain and showers through next week.

Daytime highs will be in the mid-40s to around 50, with lows in the high 30s to low 40s, he said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty
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