Crazy fall ends; now wet winter

Weather: After autumn had it all, forecast looks to be rainy for a while

December 21, 2010 

Wind. Rain. Snow. Hail.

If that was just fall, what can South Sound expect from winter, which officially arrives today?

Well, for starters, don’t be dreaming of a white Christmas.

Think wet Christmas instead.

And forget green and red. Think green and brown, National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg said Monday.

The weather phenomenon known as La Niña is expected to douse us with even more precipitation as we move into late December, January and February, Burg said.

Some memorable dates and statistics from fall:

RAIN

Wetter than normal? Absolutely. The Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia area is outpacing normal annual rainfall totals – and there are still 10 days to go in December. Sea-Tac Airport recorded about 10 inches over normal average annual rainfall; Olympia is just over 5.5 inches higher than normal.

WIND

A surprise lashing: A huge windstorm blew through Puget Sound overnight and into the morning Nov. 15-16. The fierceness surprised forecasters. Gusts of more than 50 mph were recorded in the South Sound, throwing trees into cars and onto houses, ripping down power lines and depriving thousands of homes and businesses of electricity. Power outages disrupted schedules or closed schools from Federal Way to Lacey.

Another blow: More winds whipped through the area last week, again knocking out power. In one case two classic cars – a 1968 Dodge Dart and a 1972 Dodge Challenger – were crushed by a falling 50-foot pine tree at the Parkland home of James Crabbe. “It was as bad as being in a hurricane,” Crabbe said.

SNOW

A white Thanksgiving week: More wind blew through the South Sound Nov. 22, this time bringing snow that continued to fall through the day Nov. 23, slicking roads, closing schools and snarling traffic along Interstate 5. Up to 6 inches fell in some areas. Twelve people were injured when a Pierce Transit bus slid down a steep hill and overturned near the University of Washington Tacoma. Emergency cold shelters opened around the Sound in the following days as frigid temperatures hung on.

A record low: 14 degrees at Sea-Tac on Nov. 24.

WHAT'S NEXT

It’s a La Niña winter, and that usually means below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation, Burg said. December so far has been a bit of an anomaly. That Pineapple Express actually brought in warm air that boosted the average temperature by about 3.3 degrees at Sea-Tac. But don’t count on warm days. We’re looking at highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s in the next week or so, the Weather Service said. And then we start getting into the heart of winter.

Keep your muck boots, snowshoes, flashlights and heavy coats handy.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659

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