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'Springtime In January': Expect Record-Breaking Balmy Temps As Weekend Warms Up

Western Washington has been warmer than normal lately. People were shedding layers as the mercury hit temperatures in the 50s this week.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says that pattern will continue and intensify this weekend, especially on Sunday. Records will be broken.

'Spring Weather In January' Starting Sunday

“On Sunday, I just can’t believe what it looks like. We’re going to have air that could bring us up to 60, some places even lower 60s, and there will be sun,” said Mass. “It’s spring weather in January.”

He says Friday’s rain will intensify during the day and continue into Saturday morning. But on Saturday afternoon, a front will lift and head north toward British Columbia, allowing substantially warmer air to envelop the region.

“You will notice the difference,” Mass said, predicting temps could get into the upper 50s as early as Saturday afternoon, as a prelude to the high point.

“Sunday will feel balmy. You will not believe Sunday,” Mass said. “And then warmth will continue into our area until Monday and Tuesday.”

So, the above-normal pattern not only continues, “but we’re going to get way above normal,” Mass says. He predicts that a number of locations will receive their all-time high temperatures for those days. “There’s no doubt about that,” Mass said.

This Is What Global Warming Feels Like

Mass says the extreme temperatures may give us a taste of what climate change will feel like at the end of the century, but they come from a natural pattern of ridging. He says that looks like it is caused by warming in the tropics that is not linked to greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s the same dynamic of high pressure that has caused not only warmer-than-normal temperatures in the West, but also much colder than normal weather in the Eastern U. S.

"So it doesn't look like global warming or anything like that. It looks like this is natural variability," Mass said. 

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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 beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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