Western Washington braces for freezing temps, mountain snow

SEATTLE -- This week Western Washington is bracing for the coldest temperatures so far this season.

The forecast includes freezing temperatures, high winds and a remote chance of snow in the higher hills.

Though Q13 FOX News Meteorologist Tim Joyce isn’t ready to say the ‘s word’ just yet.

“We’re watching the timing of the rain coming back on Thursday, but most of the forecast models have us as warm enough Thursday morning to just see plain old rain showers for the lowlands, the passes will see their first significant snow of the season though,” said Joyce.

Winds are expected to increase Monday night near Bellingham and through the Mountains.

Freezing temperatures are set to arrive first in Grays Harbor County overnight, and temperatures are expected to hit the mid to low 20s.

Then the cold air hits the metro Puget Sound region.

“We start out cold on Tuesday with temps in the mid to lows 30s– areas of frost for the South Sound and Kitsap Peninsula,” said Joyce. “Tuesday afternoon will be windy and chilly but sunny with highs  45-50.”

Wednesday could be below freezing for all of the region right down to sea level says Joyce.

The rest of the nation is also experiencing extremely cold temperatures as well and it’s all thanks to what’s called a ‘bomb cyclone.’

Thanks, Nuri!

Residents in the northern United States can thank a whopping Pacific tropical cyclone for the wintry blast.

Super Typhoon Nuri was akin to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy rolled into one. It had the strength of a category 5 hurricane, CNN's Sater said.

It is the strongest Northern Pacific post-tropical cyclone on record, the NWS said.

Its remnants blew up north over Alaska's Aleutian Islands last week, and when it plowed into cold air, that added violent energy to the storm, mirroring what happened with Superstorm Sandy in the Atlantic two years ago.

That earned it the moniker "bomb cyclone." That's an actual weather term.

The hybrid storm rammed into the jet stream, causing it to whip south, dragging Arctic air down with it.

It also continued to spin, Sater said, further fanning down polar cold. The biggest chill arrives on Wednesday and Thursday.

Things will get warmer over the weekend, but it won't stay that way, he said.

Prefer snow or cold?

It's hard to tell whether the snap will make life harder in Sunburst, Montana, or Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

If you prefer bitter cold over deep snow, you might like it better in Sunburst. It didn't exactly live up to its name early Monday with a low of 4 degrees Fahrenheit predicted by the National Weather Service.

And that's nothing.

By Tuesday night it should drop to 11 below zero and not rise above 6 degrees through Thursday night, the NWS forecasts.

It was snowing there early Monday, and should through Tuesday, but only about three inches should accumulate.

Not enough white for you? Then Rice Lake is your place.

Fourteen to 22 inches are forecast for Monday and overnight into Tuesday, then 2 to 4 inches for Veterans' Day on Tuesday for a whopping total of 16 to 26 inches.

Broad sweep south

The cold snap should lay down its main snow blanket across a swath extending from Idaho down through South Dakota and northern Nebraska and over to northern Michigan.

On the blanket's fringes will be flurries, sleet and rain.

The snap will bring lows into the teens and single digits down into Iowa, Kansas and Colorado this week but also spread freeze as far south as Texas.

"Much of the nation east of the Rockies is expected to see a major pattern change by the beginning of the work week," the weather service said.

The frosty blast will stop short of the Southeast and Southwest, leaving them in a temperate fall warm-zone with highs into the 70s.

But even in the thick of it, some places will pull the longer straw. Milwaukee should see more rain than snow, Chicago the same, and temperatures there should be relatively mild, the weather service says.

Another Arctic blast is on its way for next week.