A blast of Arctic air is poised to drop Seattle-area temperatures into the teens and create wind chills as low as 25 degrees below zero in parts of Eastern Washington.
A “Wind Chill Watch” issued by the National Weather Service says dangerously cold temperatures are expected in the next few days in the Yakima Valley, Columbia Basin and Spokane area.
In those areas, gusts of 25 mph winds from the north could create wind chills of 15 to 25 degrees below zero, levels that can cause frostbite on exposed skin within minutes and pose dangers to people, pets and livestock.
In addition, the Weather Service is warning of gusts up to 50 mph through Friday and into early Saturday in Bellingham and the San Juan Islands that could drop wind chills into single digits.
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Much of Eastern Washington could get some snow well into next week, according to the Weather Service.
West of the Cascades, warming shelters, utilities and emergency agencies have been gearing up to handle effects of the cold snap and are issuing reminders to wrap outdoor faucets, check on elderly neighbors and never use a hibachi or barbecue grill indoors.
Even the high temperatures forecast for the next several days are at or below freezing in the Seattle area: 32 on Friday, 30 on Saturday and 31 on Sunday. On each of those nights, low temperatures in the teens are forecast.
Although Eastern Washington is expected to get some snow over the weekend, the cold snap in the Puget Sound area is likely to be a dry one, with perhaps a dusting of snow Monday night, before temperatures rise back into the 40s, said Josh Smith of the National Weather Service.
Even without snow, roadways can be hazardous with ice or frost. Drivers are advised to slow down and be ready for emergencies.
Lynne Miller of the King County Office of Emergency Management said the fact that the cold snap isn’t forecast to arrive with a major storm in the Puget Sound area may mean it is less likely to cause widespread and prolonged power outages.
Even so, she said, this is a good time for residents to make sure they could deal with an outage by putting together emergency kits — for their cars and homes — of food, water, flashlights, first-aid supplies and other needed items.
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222