Heavy rain, Cascade snow to kick off weekend

A wild, wet and windy Friday is in store for Western Washington, driven by a weather system that could bring an inch or two of rain in the lowlands and up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains by Saturday morning.

Gusts in the Seattle area could reach 40 mph today, with sustained winds between 15 and 30 mph. On the coast, gusts of up to 50 mph are forecast. Drivers headed over the Cascades today should expect difficult conditions and are advised to carry an extra flashlight, food, water and blankets in case of an emergency.

The snow level is expected be around 3,000 feet then dip below 1,500 feet tonight. That could produce snow in some of the higher foothills. But, for the most part, there’s little chance of snow in the Puget Sound area, he said, as lows could stay in the upper 30s — a couple degrees higher than normal for this time of year.

The weather service also has issued an “avalanche warning,” saying backcountry travel is not recommended Friday in avalanche-prone areas on the western slopes of the Cascades.

The weather is expected to calm down over the weekend, with a chance of rain Saturday and Sunday. But a series of storms is expected about every other day through next week.

Though a deep, midwinter snowpack has been relatively stable, according to the warning report, heavy snowfall, strong westerly winds and a gradual warming trend could increase avalanche danger.