SEATTLE — A major snowstorm is expected to hit Washington state Wednesday, piling between six to 12 inches of snow in Seattle and other lowland areas of western Washington, the National Weather Service said Monday.
"It's a juicy storm," said Danny Mercer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. "It's not going to be hit and miss. It's going to be filling in everywhere, picking up and being quite heavy everywhere."
While drivers coped with their first snow of the winter Monday, the National Weather Service in Seattle said a wave of cold air aloft moving through Western Washington could drop several inches of snow in areas along the Washington coast, as well as areas north of Seattle by early Tuesday.
The Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia area could get about between 1 and 3 inches of snow into Tuesday, while Bellingham and areas north of Seattle could get between 3 and 7 inches, Mercer said.
"We're making up for the non-white Christmas that we did have," said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.
On Wednesday, widespread heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures are likely throughout much of the state.
The service issued a winter storm watch for Western Washington from Tuesday night to Wednesday, and for Eastern Washington from Tuesday night to Thursday afternoon.
"This is a pretty dynamic situation that could have a lot of very adverse, hazardous winter conditions," said Ted Buehner, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. He compared Wednesday's snowstorm to a December 1996 snowstorm when as much as a foot of snow fell in many communities in the region.
Snow could change over to rain sometime late Wednesday in areas south of Seattle, while areas north of Seattle may transition to warmer temperatures a bit later, Mercer said. "It's not going to stick around for a long time, it's going to cause messy commutes for the morning and evening as well," Burg said of Wednesday's snowfall.
Some areas of eastern Washington could see up to a foot of snow accumulate by Wednesday.
"Wednesday will be our snowiest period, but it's a little early to put a specific amount on how much will fall," said Greg Koch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, where temperatures dropped to single digits Sunday night.
Skiers and snowboarders who braved the snowy traffic over the holiday weekend have been enjoying powder days at the state's ski resorts. Forecasters say 1 to 2 feet of snow are possible by late Tuesday in the Cascades, with more on Wednesday, which will make driving difficult on the passes.
"This is what we've all been waiting for, the promise of La Nina and lots of show. She took a little hiatus on us," said Tiana Enger, marketing director at Crystal Mountain Ski resort south of Seattle. "It's a nice shot in the arm."
By early Monday, the storm had dropped 9 inches north of Forks, 7 inches in Bothell and about 6 inches in Mineral in Lewis County.
Transportation crews in Seattle and throughout the region were out Monday salting and de-icing major arterial streets, and making plans for more snow the rest of the week.