Winter Forecast for Seattle, Portland: Wet Start, Frigid End

October 12, 2011; 2:38 AM ET
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Sledders walk uphill as the Space Needle is seen behind Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, in Seattle's Gasworks Park. A vicious storm struck the Pacific Northwest and other Western states at the start of the holiday travel season, dumping heavy snow on roads, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people and causing a cargo plane to overshoot its runway in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Following a fairly typical start to winter, people in Seattle and Portland may have to gear up for a frigid February.

The AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team is predicting a major shift to cold weather for the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest in February and lasting into March.

"The brunt of the winter season, especially when dealing with cold, will be over the north-central U.S.," stated Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team.

However, in February, that core of cold weather is predicted to shift westward over the northern Rockies with colder-than-normal conditions extending all the way to the Washington and Oregon coasts.

Not too far away, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, are predicted to have one of their top three coldest winters in the past 20 years, according to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist and Canadian Blogger Brett Anderson.

Though February is expected to be a drier month for Seattle and Portland, chances for any snow events would be highest during this month with the colder air in place.

In contrast, the earlier part of the season is forecast to feature more moderate temperatures that average near normal.

December is likely to be a wetter month for both cities with above-average precipitation. Near-normal precipitation is predicted for January.

As for the Cascades, the Long-Range Forecasting Team anticipates near- to slightly above-normal snowfall this season. The heaviest mountain snow in the West is likely to be focused a bit farther south and east from the northern and central Sierra of California into the northern Rockies and northern part of Utah's Wasatch Range.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist and Western Expert Ken Clark said this could be a "banner snow season" for some of these areas.

Full Winter Forecast for the West Coast

Full AccuWeather.com 2011-2012 Winter Forecast

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