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Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - Page updated at 07:15 A.M.

Snow may test our resolve; up to 4 inches expected

By J. Patrick Coolican
Seattle Times staff reporter

A walker is silhouetted yesterday against an intense sun reflection off the surface of northern Lake Washington at Juanita Beach.
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Heavy snow comes as surprise

Western Washington New Year's revelers — including those in Seattle — might be throwing snowballs while celebrating, as the area could get up to 4 inches of snow late tonight and into tomorrow, followed by the chance for more snow during the extended holiday weekend.

That could also mean troublesome driving on the mountain passes as snow showers are expected to combine with heavy holiday traffic.

A storm system offshore will reach Western Washington tonight, the National Weather Service reported. The system will "spread slowly inland late Tuesday as rain before changing to snow," according to a statement from the service.

For the western slopes of the central Cascades, that could mean 2 to 6 inches of snow, with more forecast for the weekend, according to the weather service.

Nicholas Drummond finds the edge of a stiff wind for his kite at Golden Gardens Park, with the Olympic Mountains in the distance.
Forecasters emphasized that even slight changes in wind or temperature would mean a more typical New Year's Eve for Seattle and its sea-level environs: cold rain.

Nevertheless, Seattle is ready, according to a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Nickels. "Our Department of Transportation is watching. They'll be out working on the roads and sanding and whatnot," Marianne Bichsel said.

Seattle's extended forecast is for likely rain and snow showers and highs in the upper 30s on New Year's Day, followed by the same Friday and through the weekend, with temperatures dipping into the 20s at night, according to the weather service.

Weather, driving, winter sports

For forecasts, call the National Weather Service's Seattle office at 206-526-6087or go to and click on "weather."

Mountain-pass information: call 800-695-ROAD or go to

Ski and snowboard conditions: go to

The mountain-pass roads will have snow showers through the weekend.

The state Department of Transportation hasn't announced any restrictions yet for Snoqualmie Pass, but drivers should check before leaving.

J. Patrick Coolican: 206-464-3315 or


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