Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States are now being hit by a powerful winter storm. This is rapidly shaping into a major snowstorm, and is already causing widespread disruption, and there is plenty more to come.
There is the potential for record-breaking accumulations for some, particularly around Seattle and the Puget Sound. Seattle could see over 40cm of snow and that would make it the heaviest snowfall since 1985.
Seattle enjoys a temperate climate and as such, it is a city more accustomed to rain than snow. The last major snowstorm to hit virtually shut the city down for five days. This system could also do likewise. The snow is wet and heavy and we are likely to see branches and power lines brought down as a result.
Along with the heavy snow, it has turned bitterly cold with temperatures around 20 degrees below average in places. Over the last few days cold air has been diving down from the Arctic and it is that combination of cold air meeting mild air coming in from the Pacific that is bringing this massive white-out.
Strong winds are also creating blizzard conditions, especially over the higher ground around The Cascades. Significant travel disruption looks inevitable right across the Pacific Northwest. Over the higher ground, the ski areas are gleefully awaiting the arrival of the heavy snow where it is likely to be measured in metres rather than centimetres. That could be great news for the skiers and should go a long way towards making up for a dry December.