After days of anticipation, snow began falling across Western Washington Tuesday afternoon, but thankfully it waited until the evening commute had finished.
Snow began in Forks and in parts of Southwestern Washington just before 2:30 p.m. and had spread into the Seattle-Tacoma area just after 6:30 p.m.
Worries that the snow would roll into Seattle during the height of the evening commute were eased as the snow came in at the tail end of the commute, and a dry east wind was evaporating the first initial bands of snow before it could reach the ground.
The threat of late evening snow was forcing several school districts, including Seattle and Bellevue, to cancel evening activities, although classes were generally releasing on schedule. (See full list of school-related closures.)
Cold, dry air is already in place for a strong Pacific storm to spread moisture over the area. While temperatures were in the upper 30s by the afternoon, the dry air will allow temperatures to cool rapidly when the storm arrives and we expect all areas to begin as snow.
For many areas, including the Seattle-Tacoma metro area, the snow is expected to only last a few hours before changing over to rain, and is not expected to accumulate to much. And for some areas outside of Seattle, several inches of snow could fall, especially to the areas far north and west of the city.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the greater Bellingham/Western Whatcom County area, as well as the Hood Canal area until 7 a.m. Wednesday for as much as 3-6 inches of snow, with added potential of freezing rain before the snow changes to rain.
For all other areas, including the Seattle Metro area, a lesser Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. For Seattle and environs, to the north that aren't in the warning, it's in effect until 4 a.m. Wednesday. For Southwestern Washington and the central coast, it's in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday due to the expected earlier arrival and changeover to rain.
The snow will gradually change to rain by late Tuesday evening or Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning, most areas will be seeing rain and warming temperatures and what snow that fell will begin to melt and no issues are expected with the Wednesday morning commute.
In addition, gusty east winds will continue to blow out of the gaps in the Cascade Mountains. Gusts have been reported at 35-45 mph. Winds will taper off around midnight.