Up to 2 inches of snow could fall over Seattle but will likely turn to rain by Friday morning. Transportation agencies are urging caution and preparedness because of slushy roads.

Share story

UPDATE: For the latest on the forecast, see to tonight’s story: Seattle-area snowfall


The National Weather Service has issued a winter-weather advisory in Seattle beginning late afternoon Thursday, a storm that will blanket the city with snow — but just briefly.

With a low temperature around 32 degrees Thursday night, meteorologists say the system moving south to north over Western Washington will dump 1 to 2 inches of snow on the city before transitioning to rain by Friday morning. The advisory lasts until 8 a.m.

“The rain is going to wash it (the snow) away,” Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg said. “If you want to make a snowman or a natural snow cone, you better hurry.”

The combination of melting snow and rain could lead to slushy roadways. For safe winter driving, transportation agencies urge people to ensure their vehicles’ windows are clear, fuel tanks are full and tires have sufficient tread. Carry flares, jumper cables, water and a first-aid kit, and keep cellphones charged, they say.

Meteorologists are expecting higher accumulations of snow in the Hood Canal area, ranging between 4 and 6 inches, and up to a foot in the mountain passes.

They are also warning of strong winds with speeds of 25 to 35 mph, and gusts up to 45 mph, in areas along the foothills of the Cascades, such as Enumclaw and North Bend, according to the Service. Those speeds could topple power lines and trees, Burg said.

For drivers heading to the mountain passes, transportation agencies urge caution as the system rolls through. For necessary trips, they urge drivers to practice fastening tire chains before heading out.

The Washington Department of Transportation (@wsdot_traffic) posts reports on highway closures and conditions online. For updates on roads in Seattle, follow the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) updates on its blog or Twitter account, @seattledot.

Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit advise commuters to sign up for email and text alerts with service changes. Also, follow @kcmetrobus and @SoundTransit for live updates.

To track positions of snow-response vehicles in Seattle, look to SDOT’s online map. It includes “gold” streets to hospitals and major employers, where the department promises to clear all lanes within 12 hours, and significant “emerald” streets where it promises to clear at least one lane each direction.

Seattle’s response plan has evolved since 2009, after a snowstorm left some streets barely passable for days, while the city refused to apply salt to melt the ice.

The King County Emergency Management advises people to stock an emergency kit with water and nonperishable food, as well as make and practice a response plan to prepare for extreme weather. The department offers more tips on its website.