Snowball fight

Snow is infrequent in the Pacific County lowlands but does occur, as these Ilwaco residents were reminded last winter.

The Pacific Northwest has begun a shift in the weather pattern and colder seasonal conditions are expected to remain for the next several weeks. The changes have also brought uncertainty to the long-range forecast for the next 10 days.

A bit too early to tell

Meteorologists and forecast models have been up in the air about what will transpire next week with some forecast showing cold and dry conditions while two others predict a chance of lowland snow and another paves the way for windy weather.

Pacific County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott McDougall has been watching the developing forecasts for several days. He plans to closely watch for changes to the forecasts over the weekend.

“The prognosis right now is were are not going to have a wind event,” McDougall said. “And we are not going to have a snow event. However, they are not willing to rule out any of those possibilities."

He continued, "by the time we find out about it and if they back off from this more basic forecast and they forecast a wind event or low land snow if you are not prepared it will be a big issue.”

NWS is unsure at this time

The snow level is expected to be at 2,800ft on Monday night and down to 1,200ft by Tuesday night. The high temperatures next week are expected to be in the mid to upper 40s with overnight lows dipping into the mid to low 20s.

Forecasters aren’t expected to have a more clear picture of what will come until Sunday or Monday and have only made the following statement:

No single solution could be trusted or discounted at this point especially given the variance between guidance. For now, we continued to trend our forecast cooler with snow levels generally around 2,000ft.

Guidance appears to be in decent agreement that the upper trough will park over the Pacific Northwest through Thanksgiving with scattered showers and even a few snow flurries are possible.

UW Meteorology Professor Cliff Mass has also slightly weighed in on the topic but is planning to wait a few more days before he gives his entire opinion.

As of now, his prediction is the area near Portland will see heavy snowfall and the eastern portions of Pacific County including the Willapa Hills may see some snow.

The mountains passes are an entirely different story, where several feet of snow is expected to fall. Anyone crossing the passes is being encouraged to have or purchases chains and be prepared for winter driving conditions.

NWS has been wrong before

Earlier this year toward the end of the winter season Pacific County and most of Western Washington was blindsided by a few late-season snowstorms. They each brought several inches of snow to Raymond and South Bend.

The story was much different for other sections of the county such as areas near the Grays Harbor and Pacific County lines where upwards of 8 inches of snow fell. Some South Pacific County sections also had near-record totals upwards of 15 inches.

Forecasters had predicted that Pacific County would not see any snowfall during each of the storms.

Be ready and be prepared

Regardless of what the weather will happen next week, McDougall warns that the time for residents to prepare is now — especially those who will be traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

“What happens here in Pacific County may not be what is happening at our destinations,” McDougall said. “The other thing is we are also at that time of year where wind storms are typical.”

He continued, “one of the things I always shake my head about is when we get a forecast of a big storm the grocery store becomes the busiest place on earth. People should be making sure they have these things stocked up ahead of time.”

McDougall is encouraging all residents to monitor the forecast and to begin winter preparations sooner than later.

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