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Lots Of Precipitation And Possible Return of Lowland Snow This Weekend

A dark-eyed junco finds room on an otherwise snow-covered branch during a winter storm moving through the area, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, in Seattle.

Generally speaking, after the end of February, weather in the Pacific Northwest starts to feel spring-like, as temperatures rise and the likelihood of major storms drops off considerably. But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says this weekend doesn’t really fit that pattern.  

“It’s going to be wet; it’s going to be cool and it looks like what we’ve seen the rest of the winter – it’s really startling,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.   

He says a strong cold front moving through the region on Friday brought morning showers and steadier rain behind it, as well as a transition to cooler air.

Freezing Level Dropping

“The freezing level is way high right now; it’s several thousand feet up,” Mass said on Friday morning.  “But as we get into Saturday, the freezing level’s going to descend, first to around 1,000 feet and by the time we get to Sunday, it’ll be like 500 feet. And Monday, even lower,” he said.   

Mass says that means some people might see a little bit of snow in the heavier showers, especially on Sunday and Monday. “In fact, Monday actually, it looks even more probable,” Mass said.

He says mountain snow is certain Friday and Saturday.

“The mountains are going to get plastered; they are going to get hit hard ,” Mass said. “We’re talking about a few feet in the mountains above 4,000 feet.”

Risk Of Lowland Snow –Especially Sunday And Monday

In the lower elevations, Mass says expect showery conditions and temperatures in the low 40s Friday and Saturday, with a chance of snow showers above 500 feet on Saturday.

He says the forecast starts getting tricky on Sunday.

“The freezing level’s coming down — still showery conditions, “ Mass said, predicting mostly rain showers. “But there could be some snow showers in the early morning and later on — and even during the day in the heavier showers,” he said.  

On Monday, Mass says it gets even cooler and there’s a possibility of significant snow.

“The models are suggesting an inch or two of lowland snow everyplace away from the water,” he said.   “So, there’s a lot of uncertainty with this, but we have to watch Monday very carefully.”

Warmer Next Week

Mass says he does not expect the snow to stick around, because temperatures will start warming up again on Monday and Tuesday.

“And the other thing to keep in mind is the sun is much stronger now,” Mass said.  “So it is very hard to keep snow on the ground as we get into mid-March. So I’m not worried about us staying snowbound, but there could be some snow on Monday.”

To hear the forecast along with Cliff’s discussion of how the Northwest is already in 'meteorological spring,' as well as the state of the water supply and what that means for the coming summer, 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 podcasts of ‘Weather with Cliff Mass’ shows, via iTunesor Google Play.

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