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.
Public libraries in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks and Clallam Bay are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. They will be closed New Year’s Day.
Here are other places for the unsheltered as of Saturday.
• Serenity House’s adult shelter at 2321 W. 18th is open 24/7 with cots, meals showers and laundry services.
Each client is tested for COVID-19; those who are infected are placed in a separate room.
Those who need a ride to the shelter can be picked up in vans that collect people at The Gateway transit center at the corner of Front and Lincoln streets daily at 9 a.m. to 9:10 a.m., 2:50 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 6:10 p.m., said Michele Lefebvre, shelter director.
“During a blue flag, we do our best to accommodate getting people out of the cold,” Lefebvre said.
“We don’t want to see anyone get hypothermia.”
People can always call the shelter for assistance, she said. The number is shelter at 360-417-0822.
• St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 510 E. Park Ave., is offering safe parking space in its west parking lot to the unhoused who are living in their vehicles.
There are no facilities for those on foot; the building is not being opened because of the pandemic, said Deacon Keith Dorwick. No heat is provided, the thinking being that people in vehicles can run them for warmth.
Hot water is available, as well as instant coffee, cocoa and soup to mix into it, Dorwick said. Snacks are offered — none gluten-free, he said — and a 25-pound bag of dog food is on hand for those with pet dogs. Power strips for charging phones and a portable toilet are on site.
The church’s Pop-Up Warming Center is planned to be offered until sunset Jan. 4, according to the church website.
Volunteers are welcome, Dorwick said. The 100-cup urn the church was planning to use for hot water broke and Dorwick could not find a replacement, he said Friday. The church is now using a 14-cup urn and he said he could use some help in keeping it filled. Also welcome are supplies of food that can stand being out in freezing weather and donations of clothing.
To contact Dorwick, call 337 735-4135 or email email@example.com.
• The City of Port Angeles will host an overnight warming center at the Port Angeles Senior Center at Seventh and Peabody streets beginning Monday, Cameron said. Hours will be from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
• Olympic Community Action Programs is hosting an overnight warming center from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 525 N. Fifth Ave.
It is open from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. through New Year’s Eve.
• American Legion Post is standing by but no plans had been made as of Saturday, according to Ron Cameron, city attorney and planner.
• Clallam Bay Fire District 5, 60 Eagle Crest Way, will be open periodically from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. depending upon volunteer availability, Cameron said.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.