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Originally published March 19, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Page modified March 19, 2013 at 10:14 PM

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Chance of snow for first day of spring

The National Weather Service predicts a cold — and possibly snowy — start to spring in the Puget Sound area.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Lately, Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction on Groundhog Day — that spring would come early — has been believable in the Pacific Northwest. But now the National Weather Service’s forecast for the first day of spring, Wednesday, includes chances of snow as low as the Seattle waterfront.

A midweek storm, a cold-air mass from Alaska and an unpredictable convergence zone could bring snow, hail and thunderstorms to the Puget Sound region Wednesday and Thursday, according to weather-service meteorologist Jay Albrecht.

An unstable air mass over the Seattle area Wednesday afternoon could create 40- to 50-mph-wind gusts and thunder. Later that night and Thursday morning, cold temperatures and erratic weather patterns could bring snow to Puget Sound areas as low as Seattle — but it isn’t expected to stick, Albrecht said.

Albrecht, who lives in Everett, said with a convergence zone like ours, he’s always prepared for storms to bring something unpredictable.

“I’ve seen 8 inches of snow in late April with a convergence zone,” he said.

Chances of snow should dissipate Thursday by 11 a.m., but by the afternoon, the Seattle area may have to brace for another thunderstorm.

Mountain passes could get up to 18 inches of snow by Wednesday night. Temperatures at the 5,000-foot level are expected to be around 16 degrees.

Albrecht expected avalanche danger near the passes to be high.

Friday should be cold for the area as well and may bring some of its own snow showers as temperatures dip to the mid-30s in Seattle and low-30s in Everett.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com

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