Better late? Winter storm en route

The other side of the state is already fully engaged; forecasters expect several inches of snow here, too.

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Taking a hiatus from wintery roads, a white truck leans in to a bank along the shoulder of Foster Road after sliding off the slick compacted snow and ice. The brief hiatus between storms is predicted to end tonight with a strong winter storm bringing snow follwed by possible freezing rain. Tuesday, January 17, 2012

WALLA WALLA -- A winter storm may finally deliver the first significant snow of the season starting tonight.

Forecasters are predicting between three to six inches of snow by Wednesday evening. Strong winds may also cause blowing and drifting snow in the area.

Heavy, wet snow was already falling on the west side of the state this morning as the first of two strong Pacific storm systems began to move inland. Heavy snow will continue along the east slopes of the Washington and Oregon Cascades today and then spread into the remainder of Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon this afternoon through Wednesday.

The snow is expected to change to a mix of snow, rain and freezing rain by Wednesday night and could result in hazardous driving conditions throughout the area.

While drivers may curse the weather, the storms will bring much-needed depth to mountain snowpacks, which have been depleted by below-normal precipitation so far this winter.

Areas of the Blue Mountains, including Tollgate and Ukiah, are forecast to receive 10-18 inches of snowfall by Wednesday night. The Washington Cascades could be blanketed with 15-30 inches, the Weather Service reported today.

The snow is expected to give way to rain later this week with daytime temperatures climbing into the 40s and nighttime lows staying above freezing. Showers and cloudy conditions are expected to remain in the forecast through the weekend.

A light snowfall Monday morning delivered .02 inches of precipitation, as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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