It’s been a wet and blustery week in Western Washington. That’s typical weather for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, but KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says this weekend will be fairly dry. With lots of fresh snow in the mountains, conditions are good for winter sports enthusiasts, especially on Sunday.
Friday will be relatively mild, Mass says, with clouds, just a few sprinkles and temperatures getting up around 50 degrees.
“Nothing heavy here in Seattle. But there’ll be a little heavier rain in the mountains, snow above about 4,500 feet,” he said.
The weekend will start off similar, with clouds and possible showers Saturday morning as a warm front comes through, Mass says.
“But by late on Saturday, a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Pacific will be extending over us and we’ll see a drying pattern,” he said. “So, late Saturday should be dry.” And he expects temperatures in the lowlands will again be in the lower 50s.
It looks like the high pressure system will be firmly in place Sunday, keeping the rain at bay and providing good conditions for all kinds of outdoor pursuits, Mass says.
“Sunday is going to be the best day. The ridge will be right there, it should be dry,” with temperatures getting into the mid-50s, he said. “So Sunday is definitely the best day.”
And with as much as a foot and a half of fresh snow in the higher mountain passes, conditions should be good for skiers, snowboarders and snowshoe-hikers.
Wet Again Next Week
Sunday’s respite from the typical wet winter weather won’t last very long, Mass says.
“Next week, we transition back to the storms. The high pressure will move out and series of upper level disturbances will come through,” he said.
That means expect rain on and off and temperatures cooling down into the mid-40s.
“So the optimal weather over the next week will probably be on Sunday,” Mass said.
More Snow In The Mountains
While the return of stormy weather next week will likely put a damper on things for folks in the lowlands, it should bode well for winter sports enthusiasts.
“I think it will cool down enough and there will be enough storms and the jet stream will go south of us, that I think there will be more snow in the mountains.” Mass said. “I’m very encouraged that the conditions will be much better by next weekend.”
Mass says it looks like the influence of a strong La Niña pattern is kicking in. (That’s when cooler temperatures in the tropical pacific bring generally cooler and wetter weather to the Northwest.) He’s hopeful this will produce more snow in the mountains -- not just next week, but for several weeks ahead.
“If you look at the temperatures of the tropical Pacific, it is definitely cooler than normal. And La Niña tends to affect us mainly after the New Year,” Mass said. “So, we’re after the New Year now and I’m looking at the forecast models out a week or two and it really looks like the atmosphere is trying to go a La Niña way.”
To hear the full conversation – including a discussion of why the East Coast and the West Coast often experience opposite weather patterns – you can click on the 'play' icon at the top of this post.
Weather with Cliff Mass airs at 9:02 a.m. Friday, right after BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KNKX environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences, a renowned Seattle weather prognosticator, and a popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to podcasts of Weather with Cliff Mass shows, via iTunes or Google Play.