Snow headed to Clark County?

Forecasters issue advisory for low-elevation showers early next week

By Erik Robinson, Columbian staff writer

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This week’s rainy and cold start to the winter season will transition to the possibility of low-elevation snow showers by early next week.

For some people, this may be a bit of a drag.

Not for Nick Bond.

“Maybe it’s a sign of a character flaw or something,” he said.

Bond, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, happens to be the Washington state climatologist. Bond knows that the cold November rain and abundant early-season mountain snowpack will help irrigators, hydroelectric operators and salmon many months from now.

Strong La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean make it likely that Bond will have lots of cool and wet weather to enjoy this winter.

“The rain is just kind of a magical thing,” he said. “It’s certainly an important part of the landscape around here. I’ve always loved rain, just on a visceral level.”

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Portland issued an advisory on Thursday raising the possibility of snow showers at the lowest elevations early next week.

“This kind of a system looks more like something we would see in December rather than late November,” said Steve Pierce, vice president of the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society. “Regardless of whether we get any snow or not, Clark County will almost certainly see a solid freeze at some point in the next five days.”

Travel could be a little dicier than normal during the Thanksgiving holiday, another forecaster said.

“The snow level will still be low, but I think we’re probably talking a little higher than 1,000 feet,” said Steve Starmer, a weather service meteorologist in Portland. “If you’re traveling from somewhere else to here, or over a major pass, that’s something to be aware of.”

Motorists got a taste of touchy driving conditions this week.

Heavy rain in Clark County on Wednesday and Thursday caused pooling across several area roadways. The problem was compounded by mounds of fallen leaves.

Public Works crews ask property owners to avoid sweeping leaves into the streets, which can clog storm drains. In some cases, good samaritans were reportedly clearing clogged storm drains on their own.

“If you can stand on the curb with your rake or a broom and sweep that out, that would be excellent,” said Loretta Callahan, spokeswoman for Vancouver’s Public Works Department.

Bond, the state climatologist, said there may be a glimmer of hope for Western Washington residents who don’t share his enthusiasm for rain. During previous La Niña years, he said, it tends to rain heavily in the first part of the winter and then transition to cooler but somewhat drier weather in the second half.

Until then, expect plenty of rain.

“To me, it’s just kind of a marvelous thing that we’re blessed with all the rain we get here,” Bond said. “Maybe I’m kind of a weird guy.”

Erik Robinson: 360-735-4551 or erik.robinson@columbian.com.