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Widespread lowland snow will bring a White Christmas to Western Washington after all

Three to five inches of snow is possible along the I-405 corridor – bitter cold will create dangerous conditions early next week.

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[KIRKLAND, Wash.] – (MTN) A small shift in the storm track with a little more intensification means widespread snow across Western Washington is likely on Christmas Day into Sunday morning. After the system moves out, record low temperatures will plunge Washington state into the deep freeze creating dangerous conditions.

The I-405 corridor can expect one to four inches of snow, with some areas potentially seeing more. The Bellevue-Kirkland-Woodinville area will get three to five inches from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. To help the houseless, warming centers, overnight shelters, and housing vouchers are being provided across the county.

Friday morning the low-pressure system that will become our snowmaker was further south and a little stronger than what the models predicted yesterday. The National Weather Service has not issued any weather warnings for the Puget Sound lowlands at the time we went to press, but we expect Winter Weather Advisories for part of Saturday, Saturday night, and part of Sunday posted later today.

Christmas Eve started with a mix of sun and high clouds for the region, but that will be ending soon. Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., the rain will move into the area with wet snowflakes mixed in above 500 to 1,000 feet.

Friday night temperatures will drop close to freezing in the Bellevue-Kirkland-Woodinville area, Lows will be 33 to 35 and the rain should transition to wet snow for a few hours overnight. Drivers should be cautious, especially on side streets, hills, bridges, and overpasses.

The forecast for Christmas Day is more complex than yesterday. Your location and elevation will decide how much snow will fall during the day. The urban canyons of Bellevue and Seattle, along the shoreline of Puget Sound and Lake Washington, and area hot spots like Totem Lake will see more rain than snow. The hilltops such as Queen Anne, Finn Hill in Kirkland, and the foothills in Woodinville, Duvall, and Issaquah will see more snow. Precipitation will be in showers so some locations may be mostly dry while others could get dumped on. To complicate things further high temperatures will be 36 to 38 – a couple of degrees cooler will turn that rain/snow mix into mostly snow. Additionally, conditions are more favorable for a Convergence Zone to form in the evening. Expect one to two inches of snow, with the potential for a couple of areas to get higher amounts.

Saturday night the low-pressure area is now predicted to be just off the northeastern tip of Washington. Cold air will start to be pulled down from the Fraser Valley and light snow showers will fall through the region. Another one to two inches of snow will fall, while the urban canyons of Seattle and Bellevue will get more of a rain/snow mix. Temperatures will be 25 to 27 degrees, warmer in the urban cores, and roads will become slippery.

Sunday will be cold with widespread light snow across the region into the early afternoon. The change of about 100 miles in the location of the low-pressure area has boosted the amount of snow with two to three inches expected in the Bellevue-Kirkland-Woodinville area. It is too soon to predict if a convergence zone will form, but the models are more interesting than yesterday. Snow will taper off in the evening with highs between 28 and 30 degrees.

On Sunday night snow showers will end and our region will experience record-breaking cold under mostly cloudy skies. Lows will be 8 to 11 degrees. The record low at SeaTac is 20 and doesn’t stand a chance.

Monday will be partly cloudy and very cold, with a high of 22 to 25.

Monday night will be partly cloudy and cold, with temperatures from 13 to 15 degrees. The record low at SeaTac Airport is 12, so a tie isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Tuesday will be a slight improvement under partly cloudy skies with a high of 28 to 30 degrees.

The outlook for the rest of the week is for temperatures ten to 15 degrees below normal through Thursday, with only a slight improvement in the long-range forecast. Your weather apps might be showing a snowflake on Thursday too, but it’s too far out to make a prediction.

Cold temperatures will bring life threatening conditions

Temperatures this low are life-threatening to the houseless and Seattle’s Human Services Department is opening two overnight shelters from Dec. 25 to Dec. 29. One shelter will be located at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall and can serve about 100 people, 18 and older including pets. The other is located in Pioneer Square and can serve 80 people, 18 and older. Additionally, the Salvation Army can accommodate up to 240 people at its shelter in SODO.

If you have children and live in King County, you can Parents can call the King County Emergency Family Shelter Intake Line at 206-245-1026 between 8 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. for assistance.

The City of Kirkland announced they will be providing hotel vouchers to the unhomed in the city as well as opening warming centers. Hotel vouchers are available by contacting the City of Kirkland, police, fire, or parks departments or by calling (425) 577-5656. For families living at the safe parking lot at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church, vouchers for extended stay hotels have been provided.

Warming centers will be available at the following locations.

  • North Kirkland Community Center
    • December 27 – 29, 1 PM to 4 PM
    • December 30, 8 AM to 12 PM
  • Peter Kirk Community Center
    • December 27 – 29, 8 AM to 5 PM
    • December 30, 8 AM to 12 PM
  • Kirkland City Hall
    • December 30, 8 AM to 12 PM

Temperatures this low will be a danger to pets and backyard livestock. Cats and dogs will need places to escape the cold, ideally inside your house. Water bowls for animals will freeze up in this weather making it impossible for them to drink water.

Outside faucets should have hoses disconnected and be covered or wrapped to protect them from freezing. Setting your faucets to the slowest trickle keeps water moving in your pipes preventing freezing. For sinks that face outside walls of your home, open the cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate. Know where the water shutoff valve is for your house and make sure if you need a tool to use it, that you have one.

Extended cold is also hard on your car’s batteries. If the starter battery in your car is over four years old, the cold snap could spell the end of its useful life. Hybrid and electric vehicles can lose effective range when it is this cold. This happens due to physics impacting battery performance and the increased draw from the cabin heater, window defrosters, and comfort accessories like heated seats. If you find your range is deteriorating turning off the cabin heat and using heated seats to stay warm uses less power.

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