Seattle: Winter's Worth of Snow in One Day

January 18, 2012; 11:00 AM ET
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A Washington Department of Transportation web camera captured this snowy scene on Interstate 5 in Olympia earlier this morning.

Schools are closed and it's a traveler's nightmare over much of Washington today with a storm dumping a winter's worth of snow in less than 24 hours on the Seattle area.

Snow that began whitening Portland late on Tuesday evening spent the overnight hours spreading northward along Interstate 5 to Seattle.

While the snow has transitioned to soaking rain in Portland, the same will not happen in Seattle.

The snow in Seattle will instead persist through this evening with totals averaging around 6 inches, the equivalent of what the city typically receives during an entire winter.

The heaviest totals will be measured toward the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with lesser amounts in the city's northern suburbs.

As of the early afternoon, up to two feet of snow has fallen along I-5 south of Olympia with reports of four feet of snow in the Cascades southeast of Seattle.

By taking a slightly more southern track into the Northwest than previously expected, the storm will likely fall short of rivaling the November 1985 snowstorm that dropped 7.6 inches on Seattle.


Seattle, Northwest Snowstorm in Pictures

Snow Heading to Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, Boston

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History of Great Seattle Snowstorms

Regardless, the storm will not fail in causing disruptions to travel and daily routines.

KING-TV reports that public schools throughout Seattle are closed. Motorists will continue to be faced with snowcovered and slick roadways tonight, while airline passengers should expect additional flight delays and cancellations.

The snow will not only clog roadways, but will be difficult to shovel due to its heavy and wet nature.

"In the mountains, a yard or more of snow will fall in the high country," stated Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski on Tuesday. The stage is also set for possible avalanches.

A larger version of this map is available on's Winter Weather Center.

I-90's Snoqualmie Pass lies in the avalanche threat zone, prompting officials to occasionally stop traffic through the pass early this morning for avalanche control work, according to the Washington Department of Transportation.

Snow, ice and rain socked areas hard along the I-84 corridor this morning with more of the same in store tonight into Thursday. Trees and power lines were downed in The Dalles, Ore. this morning with portions of the area under a foot of wet snow.

Motorists traveling eastward on I-90 will not be greeted with improving weather after exiting Snoqualmie Pass. Substantial snow is also unfolding across the Northwest's interior, according to Western Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark.

Part of the storm slamming the Northwest will have the Northeast as its final destination. A seemingly endless train of Pacific storms into the Northwest will follow through next week.

The impending Pacific storms are expected to be warmer than the current system, meaning rain not snow is in the forecast for Seattle and the other lower elevations of western Washington. The current storm's snow will also melt, increasing the risk of urban and poor drainage flooding.


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