Ice Box Open

Posted by Rufus La Lone on

Friday January 12
Yep, the freezer has been opened and an Arctic air mass is filling in the PNW quickly.  Plenty of coverage of the current winter event, so we’ll cover a few points that you may already know, and then look forward to the next couple of weeks, per usual.  Hot beverage mornings on the way, for sure.  
To quote Professor Cliff Mass, "This Arctic Front hit like a freight train.”  Yesterday, the Arctic Front pushed down the Fraser River Gap and began “filling” the Puget Sound region with coldness.  Winds gusted over 50 mph, Bellingham temperature dropped from 40F in the morning to 14F by 9 pm, per Cliff’s report.  That Arctic air mass is rapidly filling in east of the Cascades, and should be pushing Arctic air down the Columbia Gorge Gap later this afternoon.  Spokane is -4F this morning; Kennewick 16F.  
Today is likely to be the last day above freezing for much of the entire PNW until Wed next week.  The key issue for this weekend will be SNOW and/or FREEZING RAIN.  Sleet will also be in play.  Models have charted the wet Low moving in from the west to come onshore somewhere between Florence & Newport Saturday evening.  The farther south it tracks, the less precipitation will fall north (Portland, etc), although that area would get snow.  For areas south of Salem - freezing rain, sleet and maybe some snow is possible, depending on where a mid-level “finger” of warm air gets into position (that “finger” melts the snowflakes before hitting the surface as sleet or freezing rain).  Either way, roads and sidewalks are wet, which means ICE as sunset hits tonight with the cold air arriving.  KEEP THAT IN MIND.  Best to hit the stores today for supplies and food.  Moving about outside anywhere from Cottage Grove north will be quite slick.  Patrons in the northern portions of the PNW may miss out on precip, but not the bitter cold.  This event will likely be one of the colder Arctic outbreaks we experience in the PNW.  
Temperatures: lots of variation, depending on snow cover and / or winds.  Overall, nothing above 32F is forecast from later tonight through Wed, as mentioned.  Portions of southern OR should remain above freezing.   Highs will be in the 20s early on, with single digits or low teens possible overnight.  Negative temps across much of the Cascades and eastern basins.  
DRY pattern, which is typical for Arctic Outbreaks around the PNW, will hold for 3-4 days.  Temps will moderate mid-week, as a weak, warmer system clips the PNW on Wed; a stronger system is charted for NW WA area Thu.  Later next week, freezing rain or just plain cold rain for a bit looks more likely than snow, as the air aloft will be relatively warmer than the surface.  Friday Jan 19 currently trends dry, and warmer, with an offshore flow that should minimize any fog issues.
Weekend of Jan 20,21:  wet for most of western WA; NW OR could get a shower or two, but the system will track over WA this time around.  Rain will return to OR on Mon the 22nd, and continue for WA & BC.  Drying out late Tue for a stretch of dry days that could last into the following weekend.  Some solutions indicate rain again on Fri Jan 26.  Fairly mild temps for January.
Back to our current event:  whatever form of precip your specific location receives over the next couple of days, know that it will not thaw out.  Frozen water on roads will make travel challenging; walking, too.  Ice will have to evaporate away, rather than melt.  Be sure unfrozen water is available for any animals outside the next several days, etc etc.  Wind chills (esp in the Gap outflow areas) will be dangerously cold, be sure to cover your skin.   
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