SEATTLE (AP) — A winter weather system is socking Washington with a one-two-three punch this week, with as much as 7 inches expected in Seattle and other areas of the state by Tuesday and the heaviest snowfall due Wednesday.

While drivers coped with their first snow of the winter Monday, the National Weather Service in Seattle said a wave of cold air aloft moving through western Washington — the first punch — could drop 2 to 7 inches in areas along the Washington coast, as well as north and south of Seattle by Monday night. Seattle is expected to get about 1 inch Monday night, meteorologists said.

“We’re making up for the non-white Christmas that we did have,” said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The region will get its second weather punch Tuesday when an arctic front forming around Bellingham late Monday is expected to move south and deliver between 3 and 7 inches of snow from Bellingham to Olympia.

Then, widespread heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures are expected throughout much of the state on Wednesday.

The service issued a winter storm watch for much of Washington from Tuesday night to Wednesday, with forecasts calling for 4 to 8 inches of new snow in lowland areas of western Washington. Snow could change over to rain south of Seattle by late Wednesday, said Danny Mercer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“It’s a juicy storm,” said Mercer. “It’s not going to be hit and miss. It’s going to be filling in everywhere, picking up and being quite heavy everywhere.”

Snow is expected to turn to rain sometime around midnight Wednesday in western Washington, with warmer temperatures and a high of 40 on Thursday. “It’s not going to stick around for a long time, it’s going to cause messy commutes for the morning and evening as well,” Burg said of Wednesday’s snowfall.

Some areas of eastern Washington could see up to a foot of snow accumulate by Wednesday.

“Wednesday will be our snowiest period, but it’s a little early to put a specific amount on how much will fall,” said Greg Koch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, where temperatures dropped to single digits Sunday night.

Skiers and snowboarders who braved the snowy traffic over the holiday weekend have been enjoying powder days at the state’s ski resorts. Forecasters say 1 to 2 feet of snow are possible by late Tuesday in the Cascades, with more on Wednesday, which will make driving difficult on the passes.

“This is what we’ve all been waiting for, the promise of La Nina and lots of show. She took a little hiatus on us,” said Tiana Enger, marketing director at Crystal Mountain Ski resort south of Seattle. “It’s a nice shot in the arm.”

By Monday morning, the storm dropped 9 inches north of Forks, 7 inches in Bothell and about 6 inches in Mineral in Lewis County.

Transportation crews in Seattle and throughout the region were out Monday salting and de-icing major arterial streets, and making plans for more snow the rest of the week.

— Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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