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Get Ready For Wet: First Major Fall Storms Hitting The Northwest This Weekend

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
In this file photo from Nov 17th 2015, Jacob Bell, 4, holds a pinwheel toy into a high wind, with heavy surf behind him on a pier in Seattle.

As Hurricane Matthew bore down on the East Coast, the first major storm of the season was hitting Western Washington. They’re not connected meteorologically, but knkx weather commentator Cliff Mass says the weather here was still quite intense on Thursday night and more will be coming in this weekend.

Already Wet And Windy

“The two wettest and windiest places in the United States [right now] are in the Southeast around Florida to Georgia and us here in the Northwest,” Mass said on Friday morning.

“In fact, last night we had the first major storm of the season coming through,” Mass said. “And it was a whopper.”

Winds along the coast gusted to 60-65 mph and reached 50-55 around the San Juan Islands and in Northwest Washington.

“That’s pretty good stuff; Hurricane Ridge got over 70 miles per hour,” he said.

Precipitation levels reached 3-4 inches in some locations on the windward southwest side of the Olympic Mountains.

“So there was plenty of action here. We were very, very windy and very, very wet,” Mass said.

'Plenty Of Rain' This Weekend

On Friday morning, winds were still gusting to 30-40 mph in parts of the Northwest. “I noticed there’s a little flickering of the lights, so there are a few power outages,” Mass said. He expects the winds to tail down in the afternoon. “But it’s windy this morning – so be careful around trees.”

And people in Western Washington this weekend should be prepared to get wet. “It looks like we’re going to have plenty of rain,” he said.

Mass says a minor weather system will come through Saturday morning, so there will be general showers and then “a really interesting weather system sets up.” It’s an atmospheric river, with wet weather aiming right towards our area.

“And so there’s going to be a band of precipitation – I can’t put it exactly where it will be,” Mass said. “But there will be a band somewhere between Olympia and Bellingham.”

That will come into the coast and bring with it substantial rain, both Saturday and Sunday.

“So if you want to get dry, go south,” Mass said. “It’s going to be raining a lot in some places over the weekend.”

He says it looks like the mountains will get somewhere between 3-5 inches of rain.

“So, a fairly major precipitation event,” Mass said.

Temperatures will on the cooler side, with highs around 60 to 62.

Sun Peeking Through Monday And Tuesday

Monday and Tuesday, Mass says it looks like it will be pretty dry with slightly warmer temps “and maybe even a few sunbreaks.”

But then he says another major atmospheric river comes in sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.

“I think most of the action will be south of us, but we’ll probably get a piece of it too,” he said.

“So this is a real transition,” Mass said. “Summer is over and we’re starting to get some real rain and some real wind.”

To hear the forecast along with a discussion of what’s unique about Hurricane Matthew and how well it’s been forecast, you can click on the “play” icon at the top of this post.

The weekly knkx 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 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 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