A more severe winter storm is expected to roll over the Tri-Cities this week, before the weather warms to temperatures closer to normal for December.
The coming snowstorm could leave 2 to 4 inches on the ground Thursday, with a chance of more snow Friday, according to the National Weather Service’s forecast as of Tuesday evening.
Outlying areas of the Mid-Columbia could receive up to 5 inches of snow. Roads may be slick.
“This is anticipated to be a significant winter storm system,” the weather service said in the winter storm watch it issued for Thursday and Friday in the Mid-Columbia.
A warm front off the Pacific Ocean will spread moisture east of the Cascades on Thursday, bringing snow to much of the Mid-Columbia until the weekend, the weather service said.
The weather service has gone back and forth in its forecasts for the Tri-Cities on whether snow Thursday might be followed by a sleet and freezing rain Thursday night and Friday, but was predicting more snow for the end of the work week in the forecast released Tuesday evening.
The weather service calls for an 80 percent chance of snow after 10 a.m. Thursday, with new snow accumulations of up to 4 inches possible by nightfall. Another inch or so could fall overnight.
The temperature Thursday should be a little warmer than the 28 degrees forecast for Wednesday under clear skies in the Tri-Cities.
But the 30-degree high forecast for Thursday may feel colder because of a north wind with sustained speeds of 14 to 16 mph and gusts up to 23 mph.
A chance of snow is forecast for Friday and Friday night, with temperatures warming up to about freezing Friday and only slightly below freezing Friday night.
The Tri-Cities had its first snowfall of the season Monday night and Tuesday morning, with much of the area receiving just a dusting of snow.
The weather service reported a tenth of an inch on the ground in parts of Kennewick and half an inch in Richland at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Outlying areas reported more snow, with some school districts, including Kahlotus, delaying the start of school by two hours Tuesday. The weather service reported 3 inches of snow in Waitsburg and 2 inches at the Pendleton airport.
Dozens of flights were canceled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because of winter weather conditions.
Interstate 84 westbound was closed in Eastern Oregon for part of Tuesday due to winter conditions and dense fog on Cabbage Hill east of Pendleton. The Oregon Department of Transportation warned travelers to use caution to avoid remote roads not serviced in winter if they attempt a detour using GPS navigation.
The coming weekend should bring temperatures that are not quite so cold.
Saturday night the low will be around freezing and the high Sunday should be about 40 degrees, according to early forecasts.