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Updated Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 05:38 PM

Seattle's Christmas to be wet, maybe white

By Alexa Vaughn
Seattle Times staff reporter

If you don't wake up to snowflakes wafting outside your window Tuesday, there's still a chance that much of the Puget Sound area could see at least some snow until about 1 p.m.

The National Weather Service can be such a tease sometimes, can't it?

Snow in this latest system is more likely in Hood Canal and the Cascades, which could get 4 to 10 inches, and Bremerton, which could get 2 inches as the snow level sinks to sea level.

But areas above 500 feet east of the Sound could see rain turn into at least temporary flurries accumulating to less than an inch of snow. That includes Seattle, Bellevue, Sammamish and Kent.

Snow is most likely to drop at low elevations between 6 a.m. and noon, said weather-service meteorologist Johnny Burg. Though the expected low for Seattle is 35 degrees Christmas Day, snow is still possible, he said.

"It's called the wet bulb effect," Burg said. "When rain first falls, the air is still too warm for snow. But after a while, that warm air can be diluted out by the rain and be cold enough to turn the rain into snow."

All precipitation will be rain by about noon in Seattle, where a high of 42 is predicted. Chances of snow might stretch into the afternoon in some areas of Everett, but by about 3 p.m. all precipitation will be rain there as well.

"If you really want to see snow, you can drive to the mountains or Hood Canal, but some of those places might be bad for driving," Burg said.

Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass remains too dangerous for drivers, according to the state Department of Transportation, and is closed. Though the ski area is accessible to drivers coming from the west, Highway 2 is shut down until further notice from the summit to Leavenworth.

Dozens of trees weighed down by last week's snowstorm still lean perilously over the highway, and many have toppled, according to the Transportation Department. The 8 more inches of snow expected Christmas Day would worsen conditions. Downed trees killed a Bothell couple and injured nine others since Friday, in a pair of crashes about 15 miles east of the pass.

If the hazardous conditions persist, officials say they'll try using a helicopter to blow snow from the trees Wednesday.

In the meantime, eastbound drivers can use routes such as Highway 97/Blewett Pass to Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass. The Transportation Department said crews will do everything they can to keep that pass clear during a storm that is expected to dump 10 more inches in that area.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.


STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
A small western window through the clouds opened Monday morning, exposing fresh snow on the Olympic Mountains seen across Lake Union.




BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES
John Hickey, of Bainbridge Island, ties ice skates on his daughter, Susu Bereman, 6, before skating at the Bellevue Magic Season Ice Arena on Monday. It was a special day, as Hickey formally adopted Susu five years after he and his now late wife brought her into the family. Learn more about this picture at: seattletimes.com/picturethis




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