Get ready to wield your snow shovels and check for school closures Thursday morning.
Several inches of snow are expected from late Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday morning in the Tri-Cities, followed by bitterly cold weather as an even colder cold snap is predicted.
“In terms of winter weather, this is a tough week,” said Nic Loyd of Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet in Prosser. “We haven’t seen anything like it for a long time.”
A “strong and very wet” Pacific storm system will move into the region, creating an 80 percent chance of significant snow, according to the National Weather Service.
It will be met with a cold front descending from Canada, according to the WSU AgWeatherNet.
The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for heavy snow in effect from 1 p.m. Wednesdayto 4 a.m. Thursday.
It predicts 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulating in the Tri-Cities on Wednesday, but not much snow is expected to fall until at least 4 p.m.
Overnight snow accumulation from the storm could increase to 3 to 6 inches by about 4 a.m., the weather service said. There is a 20 percent chance that more snow could fall through 10 a.m. on Thursday.
Less snow is expected to the north of the Tri-Cities. There the forecast is for 2 to 3 inches.
After Thursday morning, no more snow is expected in the Tri-Cities through most of the weekend. Sunday night a slight chance of snow is predicted by an early forecast of the weather service.
Temperatures already are unseasonably cold in the Tri-Cities, but they will go lower.
The forecast for Tuesday night was for 12 degrees in the Tri-Cities. As another cold snap arrives, the temperature could drop to 3 degrees Friday night and 4 degrees Saturday night, according to the weather service.
Saturday the high could be 14 degrees at the Pasco airport, warming to 20 degrees on Sunday, according to the weather service.
“What we’re experiencing is a stark change from our last two winters, which were relatively mild,” Loyd said. “Low wind-chill values were barely a factor in our weather.”
Light winds will make temperatures feel colder than the thermometer reads to people and animals.
Normal lows for the Tri-Cities in December are about 30 degrees.
Check bit.ly/snowdelays for school delays or closures.