A new forecast has reduced the amount of expected snow in the mountain passes for Sunday.
Earlier models had shown the possibility of 12 to 18 inches in the Cascade mountain passes as Sunday evening transitions into night, prompting warnings from the National Weather Service for people driving home after the Thanksgiving weekend.
But the amount of snow will be only a few inches and not fall until Sunday night, meteorologist Josh Smith said. Drivers should be wary of heavy rain, though.
While it's expected to snow fewer inches in the passes Sunday, the forecast still calls for a possibility of snow in the lowlands. Western Yakima and Kittitas counties have a good chance of rain mixed with snow Sunday afternoon and evening.
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Drivers crossing the passes Monday morning can expect snow showers dropping four to five inches at the higher elevations.
The same wet front will bring some strong winds up and over the Cascades but they'll weaken before hitting the Tri-City area.
"You may be breezy Saturday and Sunday, but the strong winds won't make it into the Basin," said Ann Adams, assistant forecaster at the Pendleton Weather Forecast Office.
Saturday's forecast for the Tri-Cities shows a chance of showers in the late afternoon increasing to a 30 percent chance overnight. Temperatures should range from a high of 34 to lows in the 20s.
The wet weather will continue on into Tuesday with rain for the Tri-City area and snow -- an inch or so -- further east as the clouds bunch up against the Blue Mountains. The upper Columbia Basin, northern Franklin County and further north may see a skiff of snow as well, Adams said.
A cold front is expected to descend on the area beginning Tuesday. Temperatures will struggle to get out of the 20s, even during the day, Adams said. The overnight low will plummet to 9 degrees by Wednesday and 7 degrees by Friday.
"It's that time of year," she said. "You either put up with the wet weather or the cold, frigid air."
Local police want to remind motorists that as the weather gets worse, it's even more important to buckle up and drive sober.
In the last five years, an average of 49 people have died on Washington roads during the holiday season.
Extra DUI patrols will be out locally and state police will have additional troopers looking for traffic violations, part of organized campaigns to reduce fatalities.
"It's bad enough that we have to notify a family, on what should be a holiday, that they've lost a loved one in a traffic collision," said John Batiste, chief of the Washington State Patrol. "It's doubly heartbreaking when simply buckling up could have saved that person's life."
Authorities also urge motorists to get their vehicles checked and have chains handy if they plan to go over the mountain passes.
w Staff writers Loretto J. Hulse and Tyler Richardson contributed to this story.