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Summer Seems To Be Arriving Late In Western Washington; Call It 'Januly'

Expect the cool, cloudy skies and rain to continue this weekend. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the unseasonable weather is so extreme this year, he’s coined a new phrase for it: “Januly.”

He says though it’s not quite as cold as January, the patterns he’s seeing in the atmosphere resemble ones more typically seen in winter.

“I looked at the satellite picture and I couldn’t believe it,” Mass said. “It looks identical to the kind of satellite images that we see in January — this huge cyclone, this spiral of clouds, a front coming out of it. So, you couldn’t tell the difference between the satellite picture of today [Friday] and that of January, they look that close.”

To be fair, he says the similarity stops with the temperatures. But other conditions sure don’t feel much like summer.   

“It won’t be quite as cold as January, but there will be plenty of precipitation and lots of clouds,” Mass said.  

Gray And Cool On Friday

On Friday, he says there will likely be a break in real rain, but expect lots of gray, cooler than normal temps and some showers.

“It will be cloudy all day, temperatures mainly getting up into the upper 60s, maybe a few 70s – so a really cool day,” Mass said. “Maybe five degrees below normal.”

Rainier Saturday

On Saturday, he says a powerful center of low pressure that has been offshore of us will head south into Oregon, pushing more showers into the region.

“The heaviest precipitation will be in Oregon. But we’ll get plenty. So, 30-50 percent chance of rain in any location here in Western Washington at least, much more in the mountains, the mountains will be quite soggy,” Mass said, adding, “expect temperatures getting up maybe to 68-69 in the lowlands on Saturday.”    

A Slight Break On Sunday

Sunday is going to be the day with the big break, Mass says.

“The lows are going to go south of us, we’ll get into drier northwesterly flow,” he said.

So there will be clouds in the morning, but those will probably break up into partly cloudy skies during the afternoon and temperatures will rise a bit, as high as 72, Mass says.

“We could easily get to 71-72 – low 70s – so below normal, but a much, much better day on Sunday,” he said.

More Cool Grey Skies Next Week

Unfortunately, another upper level trough looks like it may be moving in on Monday and Tuesday, Mass says, so we’ll see continued clouds, below normal temperatures and the chance of showers as the work week begins.

It’s often said around the northwest that the summer season usually starts in earnest around July 5, but Mass says the inside joke in the local weather community is that that’s still too soon to judge. 

“I have to be fair: at the National Weather Service, there they always say summer starts on July 12th – so it still hasn’t started yet, according to the experts there at San Point.”   

So, we’ll have to wait till next week to see for sure whether this year’s summer is officially late.

To hear the forecast along with a discussion of some intriguing clouds listeners have been spotting in the skies over Puget Sound this week, 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 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.