More snow due for Eastern Washington

SEATTLE — A rare white Christmas in Western Washington gave way to warmer temperatures and disappearing snow as the remnants of the past week’s winter storm melted away today.

But in Eastern Washington, more snow was forecast to pile on top of the record amount already on the ground.

A new system moving into the state will bring up to 3 feet of fresh snow to the Cascade and Olympic mountains, said the National Weather Service, which posted a winter storm warning for the mountain ranges, and warned of avalanches in backcountry areas.

A flood watch was posted for most lowland areas of Western Washington. Minor urban flooding, caused by drains and creeks overwhelmed by melting snow, could be a problem in the Seattle area, said Johnny Burg, weather service meteorologist for the Seattle area.

In Spokane, snowfall records for December have been shattered. As of Christmas Day, 46.2 inches of snow had fallen in the Spokane area, breaking the record of 42.7 inches set in 1996 for December. Records have been kept since 1891, said John Livingston of the weather service.

“And we have more snow coming,” Livingston said.

Another 4 inches could fall before some rain arrives Saturday afternoon, the weather service says. Rain, snow and windy weather won’t do much to brighten the rest of Spokane’s weekend, before lower temperatures and still more snow arrive Sunday night.

Less than 1 inch of snow was forecast to fall today on the lowlands and foothills of Western Washington, but warmer overnight temperatures should wash it away, Burg said.

Burg said levels of Western Washington rivers should rise, but not up to flooding levels, except for the Skokomish River, outside of Shelton, which may flood.

On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency after the storm that pummeled much of the state last weekend. The move frees up resources, such as the National Guard, to respond if necessary.

“A number of counties and cities are struggling to meet the problems posed by this month’s onslaught of snow and winter weather. Snowfall has reached record or near-record level in 30 of the state’s 39 counties,” Gregoire said in the statement.

Local states of emergency also have declared in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties.

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