Season’s first big storm headed toward Peninsula

The first big storm of the season is blowing toward the North Olympic Peninsula from the central Pacific.

Warming up for the big one are two storm systems expected to drop light rain through today and Saturday, said Danny Mercer, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The third storm system will be less well-behaved.

The southerly winds of the big storm are expected to hit the West End on Saturday afternoon, coming in at 20 to 30 mph, with higher gusts possible, carrying buckets of rain — from 2 to perhaps even 4 inches — and shoving huge swells onto the beaches.

“Depending on the track of the storm, the winds could be higher,” Mercer said.

The storm, curving up from the south and headed into Vancouver Island, should have calmed somewhat by the time it reaches the central Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sunday, Mercer said.

West wind will blow through Port Angeles and Sequim, but with a lighter touch than on the ocean coast and bringing less than an inch of rain, he said.

Port Townsend and the Hood Canal will be battered from both the south and the west, with wind blasting in from the south Saturday night and then shifting to a northwesterly direction Sunday, carrying from 1 to 2 inches of rain.

Snow on the peaks

Snow will fall, but where it belongs — up in the mountains — according to the forecast.

The lowest snow level in the Olympics is expected to be 3,500 feet, with snow falling there Sunday night and Monday.

“There will be no snow below 3,500 feet,” Mercer said.

Saturday, the white stuff is expected to begin falling higher up, and accumulations of between 6 inches and 1 foot are possible at 5,000 feet, Mercer said.

Temperatures in the lowlands will drop, but not significantly, Mercer said.

“The mountains is where the cold air will be,” he said.

Snowfall to about 4,000 feet is expected in the Cascades.

High seas

Mercer warned storm-watchers to stay away from the beaches.

“People will come in to watch the waves come in, the swells throw big logs on the beach, and it seems like every year, somebody gets hurt,” he said.

Seas of 20 to 30 feet are forecast.

“That’s pretty significant for us,” Mercer said, adding that conditions will be hazardous for both small watercraft and beachcombers.

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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