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Sorry, Skiers: Warmer Temps And Lots Of Rain Coming In

Tim Durkan
Taken on Christmas Eve, 2014.

The dry, cold weather and clear blue skies that ushered in the new year with spectacular mountain views around Seattle is coming to an end. The clouds have moved in and you’ll need some rain gear by Sunday at the latest, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

”We’ve had this dry, cold weather for much of the week, but it’s changing,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

A weak weather system is moving in from the north Pacific, bringing with it the promise of some very wet conditions that will extend into the lower mountain passes, especially later in the day on Sunday.

Warming Up Friday, ‘Blah Day’ Saturday

Friday’s conditions are “just a warm up – literally,” said Mass, predicting  small amounts of light rain later in the day, with temperatures climbing into the lower 40s — "which almost seem warm right now,” he commented.

Mass says Saturday will be “a very blah day,” with increasing clouds and “the chance of a sun break, but not much.” Temperatures will get into the lower 40s, maybe even mid-40s.

Transition Sunday: Atmospheric River Bringing Heavy Rain

Mass says Sunday is the day that we’ll see the real transition, with substantial rain hitting and temperatures rising.

“A warm front is going to move northward and with that will be the beginning of some real heavy rain,” Mass said.  “So we’re going to see an atmospheric river condition, in which we’ll have heavy precipitation, on Sunday going into Monday, and temperatures zooming up — you know, well into the upper 40s.”

Rainy Mountain Passes

Mass says in the mountains, there could be 3 to 5 inches of rain this weekend and in the lowlands of western Washington, “maybe even 1 or 2.” And unfortunately for snow lovers, the freezing level will rise, probably to 5,000 or 6,000 feet.

“So certainly the lower passes will see the snow turning to rain, especially later on Sunday,” Mass said. He predicts rain will continue through Monday, but says it should dry out on Tuesday and Wednesday.


The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU 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 a podcast of “Weather with Cliff Mass” shows.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to