Olympia - Snow fell in parts of South Sound, including Olympia and Tumwater, beginning about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
But don’t break out the snowshoes, because the snow isn’t expected to stick around, according to the National Weather Service.
The agency predicted an accumulation of up to 3 inches of snow, mixed with freezing rain, for the Olympia area for late Tuesday. By midnight, the snow level was expected to rise to 700 feet, and an overnight low temperature of 31 degrees was expected.
The forecast for today calls for much higher temperatures and a southwest wind between 15 and 21 miles per hour.
“Everything will change over to rain and will melt any snow that’s on the ground,” said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. “We’re looking at temperatures for the Olympia area to warm up to highs around 49 or 50 degrees.”
The weather service’s forecast through Monday is rain likely with temperatures in the mid- to upper-40s.
“We’re looking at wet and warm, and above freezing,” Burg said. “And we’re not looking at snow in seven days from (Tuesday night).”
Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, describes this month’s weather as a “La Niña winter.”
“Wetter than normal, which is typical for such winters,” he said. “Typically, more snow than normal after Jan. 1, particularly over the mountains. This looks on track.”
Based on records that date to 1948, the Olympia area averages about 7 inches of snow in January, Burg said.
The snow and freezing conditions prompted The Salvation Army in Olympia to open its cold weather shelter. The program — which operates at the main shelter during extreme cold weather between Nov. 15 and March 15 – waives many of the regular rules for guests and creates space for an additional 50 people who might otherwise be forced to spend the night on the streets.
“The focus of the cold weather shelter is saving people’s lives,” said Maj. Bill Lum, a spokesman for the organization.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org