It’s going to be cold. Very cold.
Snowfall levels overnight Saturday into today and on subsequent days were in doubt earlier Saturday after many places on the North Olympic Peninsula received little to no snow while other areas in higher elevations reported several inches.
But there is no doubt in the forecast about wintry temperatures the likes of which the Pacific Northwest has rarely seen.
Arctic air flowing out of the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia was forecast to begin inundating the Peninsula beginning today. Lows in the teens and highs in the 20s are predicted to extend throughout the week.
Bitter cold and snow were reported early Saturday in Whatcom County. Meteorologist Cliff Mass predicted that eastern Washington will have highs in the single digits and lows below zero.
“Many locations around the Northwest will experience daily (not all-time) low-temperature records,” Mass said in his blog updated on Christmas Day.
“And if you want to be impressed, consider the temperature at around 800 meters above the surface at Quillayute on the Washington NW coast (925hPa pressure level). It will be the second coldest time in the 73-year record there.”
Mass expected localized heavy snow, even in the rain shadow around Sequim, overnight. The National Weather Service, in its winter storm warning that remains in effect until 4 p.m. today, predicted from 1 to 7 inches of snow.
That is down from earlier predictions of as much as 11 inches.
Nevertheless, conditions will be icy and the weather service urged residents to travel as little as possible. Those who must are advised to keep flashlights, food, and water in the vehicle.
Snow may fall off and on throughout the week beginning Monday, according to the weather service, but a large storm may come through on Thursday.
Given the predictions of record cold temperatures, Serenity House of Clallam County has declared a “blue flag warning” and agencies throughout the Peninsula have been preparing shelters for those who need them.
As temperatures plummet, warming centers are open to the public this week in Port Townsend and around East Jefferson County. A news release from the county Department of Emergency Management includes these locations:
• The Winter Welcoming Center in the Pope Marine Building, on the dock at Water and Madison streets in downtown Port Townsend, is open 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily. Hot beverages, snacks, hygiene supplies and warm clothing await at the center along with public computers, bathrooms and electricity for charging devices.
This Thursday, Friday and Saturday as First Night festivities are set up at the Pope Marine Plaza, the Winter Welcoming Center will move temporarily to First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St. in Uptown Port Townsend.
• The Jefferson County Emergency Shelter will have its warming center open to guests in the lower level of the American Legion hall, 209 Monroe St., from noon to 4 p.m. today through Thursday.
• The Brinnon Community Center office, 306144 U.S. Highway 101, will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Tuesday through Thursday.
• The Cotton Building, 607 Water St., Port Townsend, is open as a warming center from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily.
• The Jefferson County Jail lobby, 81 Elkins Road in Port Hadlock, is another place to get out of the cold, the Emergency Management press release noted.
The county’s two public libraries also provide refuge. In Port Hadlock at 620 Cedar Ave., the Jefferson County Library is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Port Townsend Library, 1220 Lawrence St., is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The Department of Emergency Management also listed ways to be prepared for snow and bitter cold conditions:
• Make sure your vehicle is equipped for the unexpected;
• Keep a bag of salt or sand in your trunk to melt ice;
• Store numbers in your phone for towing services and roadside assistance that may be available with your car insurance;
• Consider keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your car;
• Stock up on food at home so you don’t have to drive on icy roads to the store;
• Keep extra batteries for your flashlight and portable radio;
• Use battery-operated lighting rather than a kerosene lantern inside your house;
• If you don’t have to go out, stay home.
• Stay informed about the latest weather conditions at https://www.weather.gov.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]