Snowfall map

The snowfall map through 4 a.m. Sunday, shows as much as 4 inches from Everett southward for western Washington.

PACIFIC COUNTY — The 24 hours between Christmas eve and Christmas evening are expected to be a weather roller coaster for much of the Pacific Northwest, with heavy rain turning to heavy snowfall by Christmas night.

Current estimates from the National Weather Service in Portland calls for up to a 60% chance of 4 inches of snow accumulation at the coast through Sunday and a 90% chance of at least 1 inch of snow.

“For the low lands including parts of the coast, [Christmas] will be a transitional day as snow levels drop further,” the NWS stated. [We] may see some snow showers reach the valley floor during the day in [a] convective air mass [allowing] heavier showers to driver the snow levels down to the lowest elevations.”

“Should the snow levels run into the valley floor [Christmas] night into Sunday, accumulating snow [is] likely,” the NWS added.

University of Washington Professor Cliff Mass has been monitoring the storm and providing updates on his weather blog. He is classifying the storm as a “meteorological sledgehammer.”

“Around 4 p.m. tomorrow [Dec. 25], all hell will break loose as Arctic air pushes energetically through the Fraser River Valley into NW Washington. Temperatures will rapidly fall below freezing in western Washington, with gusty winds from the north,” he stated.

“Arctic air will also push south into eastern Washington. Trust me; you will know this is happening, [its] the equivalent to being hit by a meteorological sledgehammer,” he added.

However, Mass has remained conservative in his forecast and issued his snow-depth predictions that call for little to no snow accumulation for most of the region, including Pacific County.

“The origin of the lack of precipitation is a subtle one,” he said. “The upper-level trough associated with this event is directed too far southward, moving the greatest upward motion (which produces precipitation) to our south.”

In contrast to Mass’s prediction, the NWS issued a Winter Storm Warning for our region, including Pacific County.

“Winter Storm Warning in effect from 4 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Monday,” the warning states. “Heavy snow expected [with] storm total snow accumulations of 2-7 inches [for Raymond to Long Beach] and additional snow accumulations of 10-20 inches [for eastern Pacific County with] winds gusting as high as 35 mph.”

Sections of U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 6 are expected to be severely impacted, especially at higher elevations. Residents are being urged to monitor travel conditions closely.

The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency, Pacific County Health and Human Services, and Grays Harbor College have collaborated to open a warming shelter at the Ilwaco college campus. The shelter will be open on Christmas night and Sunday night from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“It’s the county’s intent to provide this service through the cold weather event as long as volunteers can be found to maintain safe staffing levels,” PCEMA Director Scott McDougall said. “Plans are also in place to open a shelter at the GHC facility in Raymond.”

‘That shelter will be opened if, and when, safe levels of volunteer staffing are secured. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact [me] at smcdougall@co.pacific.wa.us or call 360-214-1046,” he added.

McDougall advises travelers to be prepared for winter weather with emergency supplies inside their vehicles and expect icy and snow-covered roadways.

He is also asking residents to be mindful of heating sources and indoor cooking during extreme weather and power outages due to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The next round of heavy snow is expected mid-week when more arctic air invades the region, bringing frigid temperatures below freezing, even into the 10s.

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