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A Classic July 4th Weekend: Mostly Cloudy And Mild, But Clear Skies In Time For The Fireworks

"Fireworks 3" by Brett Monroe is licensed by CC BY 2.0

This Independence Day, don’t expect the scorching heat we’ve seen in recent summers around here. But it will be pleasant this year, with fine conditions for viewing fireworks, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

“You know this is going to be a classic July 4th weekend,” Mass said, “where there’s a lot of clouds and a few sprinkles.”

Morning Clouds Persist All Weekend

He says on Friday, a weak upper-level disturbance is moving into the region, bringing rain to the coast and cloudy skies over much of Western Washington.

“And as this disturbance goes by, there’ll certainly be some showers on the coast and probably a few in Northwest Washington,” Mass said. “And we’ll just have clouds here in Western Washington.

Expect temperatures getting up into the low 70s; probably no rain in Seattle.

“But there will be a lot of clouds," said Mass,  "and I expect some breaks later in the day.”  

That pattern continues through the weekend.

On Saturday, Mass says another weak disturbance comes in, again, bringing with it lots of morning clouds that last well into the afternoon.

“Because we’ve had onshore flow – high pressure off shore, lower pressure inland – that’s pushing the marine air in,” Mass said. And that marine air is then held in place by the lift coming from the upper-level disturbances.

“So it’s been very hard to burn this stuff off earlier in the afternoon, and it’s sticking around till late in the afternoon before it finally gives way,” he said. “And there could be a sprinkle or two.”

Sunday morning, another upper-level disturbance comes in, bringing more clouds and some rain “probably generally over Western Washington early in the morning,” Mass said. And once again, he expects it will probably improve later in the day.

“So - these days, Saturday and Sunday, temperatures getting up only into the low 70s – no heat wave, at all,” he said.

July 4th: Clear Skies In Time For Fireworks

The good news, Mass says, is that all this stuff tends to move through in time for the holiday.

“And on Monday, it looks like we should have a relatively decent day. Maybe a few low clouds in the morning, but it should open up,” Mass said.

He says there’ll be sun on July 4th and temperatures should reach into the mid-70s.

“So a pretty decent day. And I am very optimistic there will be now precipitation and no low clouds for the Fourth of July fireworks,” Mass said.    

“It’s not like the last few years, where we’ve had these hot periods and lots of sun, you know – it’s back to normal: low clouds, some sprinkles,” he said. “But fortunately, July 4th opens up.”

And the forecast looks “pretty solid” for good viewing conditions, Mass says.

To hear the forecast along with a discussion of current conditions for wildfires, you can click on the “play” icon at the top of this post.

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