‘Blame it on Canada’: Cold air likely to bring snow

PORT ANGELES — Canada, it seems, is responsible for snowy conditions forecast to invade the North Olympic Peninsula tonight and Monday.

“You can blame it on Canada,” joked Josh Smith, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, over the phone Saturday from his Seattle office.

“We are getting a Fraser River outflow event. It causes cold air to come [off] of the Fraser River up in Canada” and flow southwest into the United States.

The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia — originating at Fraser Pass near Blackrock Mountain in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for 854 miles into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver, according to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System.

“As the cold air comes out, it flows southward [from] the Fraser River area into Western Washington and it hits up against the northern side of the Olympic Mountains. The air is forced to rise and it is more likely to precipitate.”

The chance for snow comes on the heels of storm systems that hit the area last week. The most recent snowstorm, which was from the south, hit Thursday night into Friday morning.

Between Thursday evening and 7:30 a.m. Friday, the North Olympic Peninsula received varying degrees of snow, Smith said.

During that time frame, the area 4 miles northwest of Hurricane Ridge received 3.2 inches, the area 5 miles southwest of Port Angeles received 3 inches, the area 3 miles southwest of Port Angeles received 2.7 inches, the area 3 miles south of Port Angeles received 2.3 inches, 1 mile southeast of Port Angeles received 1.2 inches, while the city proper itself received 1.1 inches, according to Smith.

Also during that time frame, the Forks area — according to measurement at Quillayute Airport — received 0.5 inch, Smith said, while Sequim received at most a trace of snow.

In Jefferson County, the area 4 miles west of Port Ludlow received 2.7 inches and the area 1 mile west northwest of Port Hadlock received 1.5 inches.

The area 8 miles southwest of Quilcene had received 1 inch by 3 a.m. Friday, Smith said, with any snowfall after that not yet accounted for.

No information was available during that time period for Port Townsend, Smith said.

With the current weather system, “we have a chance of snow coming up Sunday night into Monday,” Smith said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty right now, but the Port Angeles and Sequim areas have a greater chance of getting” snowfall.

“Anything from Port Angeles eastward has a decent chance at getting accumulations.”

However, “it is too early to know exactly how much snowfall” will accumulate, Smith said.

“Some areas will not see any snow and others will get a few inches. It is hard to say” where snowfall will hit the hardest, he said.

Forks and Port Townsend are not as likely to be hit with snow during this next system, Smith said.

Such snow in the lowlands is rare, Smith said.

“There have been years that we have gone without getting any,” he said.

“It happens every once in awhile.”

Records in which year snow last hit the lowlands were not available Saturday, Smith said.

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Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected].

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