After a wet November, December is getting off to a soggy start — but the storms that drench the lowlands will bring a bounty of snow to ski resorts.
It’s early in the winter weather season to be whining, but Western Washington and the rest of the region are in for another round of drenching days with no break in sight.
A series of storms sucking up tropical moisture from the Pacific are expected to pound the Pacific Northwest through the weekend and into the week, bringing heavy rain to many lowland areas and dropping as much as 2 feet of snow in the mountains.
For the Puget Sound area, the chance of rain is 70 percent or higher through Tuesday. Beyond that, the National Weather Service forecast allows for at least a possibility of showers every day through Friday.
Things are even worse in California. Heavy rain and strong winds knocked out power to thousands, delayed flights and flooded runways Friday and Saturday. Parts of Sonoma County had already received more than 7 inches of rain, with more forecast through the weekend.
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The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning this weekend for Washington’s Olympic and North Cascade Mountains, with 10 to 18 inches of snow likely by midday Sunday. Driving conditions at Snoqualmie Pass could be dicey on Sunday, with freezing rain possible, said National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Berg.
Ski resorts across the state were updating their snow totals and anticipating more. Mount Baker ski area claimed to have the deepest base in North America, with 76 inches. Crystal Mountain, Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge are all at least partially open and trumpeting bigger things to come.
With another wet, windy trough moving in on Tuesday, conditions look soggy for Wednesday as well, Berg said. “Maybe by Thursday and part of Friday we’ll have a dry period before another system comes in later Friday.”
The Skokomish River on the Olympic Peninsula was spilling its banks Saturday, and is expected to remain above flood stage through Tuesday.
As the storms sweep across the state, Central and Eastern Washington are in for nasty conditions. Gusts up to 55 mph are possible Sunday afternoon and evening across the Columbia Basin. Heavy, wet snow is expected on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, with the snow level dropping down to the valley floor by early Sunday.
Dreariness is the norm for late fall in the Northwest, but November was notably so. Total rainfall for the month was 8.28 inches at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — 1.71 inches above the monthly average. There was only one clear day in November.
But the month was balmy, Berg said. “Every place was warmer than usual.” At Bellingham Airport, November’s average high temperature was 52.7 degrees — compared to the normal high of 49.7 degrees.
The weather on November’s final day set three new records. The high of 59 degrees at Sea-Tac Airport was the warmest for the day, surpassing the previous record of 57 set in 1951.
At the National Weather Service headquarters at Sand Point in Seattle, the high for Nov. 30 was 56, breaking the old record of 55 set in 2008. Total rainfall at Sand Point measured 1.45 inches, swamping the previous record for the day of 0.9 inches, which fell in 1994.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.
Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or firstname.lastname@example.org