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Northwest Normal: Increasing Rain, November Storm And Snow For Skiiers

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
A Washington state ferry heads for downtown Seattle past the Port of Seattle on a misty morning as viewed from the roof of the Space Needle, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

Keep your rain gear handy. A mostly sunny start to the weekend on Friday provided a brief respite from the cold, wet and dark skies that are typical for mid-November in the Northwest, but KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says don’t be fooled. 

We have turned the corner into the rainy season and we should expect the wet and cold to predominate here for “maybe a few months – that’s what we have ahead,” he said.

Mass says Friday’s sun came on the heels of a weather system that moved through the Puget Sound region, temporarily allowing high pressure to build aloft and temperatures to climb to around 50 degrees.

“So there may be some showers in southwest Washington, but not around here,” he said. “Actually a pretty pleasant day. You’ll even see sun, so get out there today.”

Wetter Saturday

Mass says Saturday will be a transition day, starting off cloudy and mostly dry in the morning. But later in the day, sprinkles will begin and clouds will thicken.

“I think there’s a good chance of some showers on Saturday night into Sunday morning,” Mass said.

Storm Begins Sunday Night

Mass expects Sunday to start off with a little bit of light rain, getting heavier before the weather intensifies considerably.

“A serious storm is coming in Sunday night (to) Monday morning, so that’s the big focus right now. The storm will have strong winds with it, so it will be a very intense low pressure center that’s going to move right up the coast,” he says. “So I expect, we’ll have fairly heavy rain Sunday night and Monday morning. And the winds will pick up overnight.”

That means potentially serious wind and possible power outages heading into Monday morning, Mass says.

“We’re talking about, here in Puget Sound, winds could gust to 30-50 miles per hour,” he said, “Strong winds on the coast, so this one we’ll have to watch. A little more intense (or) stronger inland, we could get even stronger winds.”

Even Wetter Next Week – With Lots Of Mountain Snow

Mass says after that storm moves through, he expects an atmospheric river event to set up early next week.

“We’ll get this plume of moisture moving into the region, the rain will pick up, the temperatures will cool down slightly – and that’s when I expect that the mountains will start getting substantial snow,” Mass said. He says this is likely to produce enough snow that several of the local ski areas will be able to open.

“I believe by the time we get to Wednesday, there could be another foot or two of snow in the mountains – certainly above 4,000 feet,” he said.

“Places like Baker and Crystal and Stevens … have maybe 16-20 inches,” right now, Mass said.  

“I think the storm Tuesday-Wednesday will throw them over and I expect some ski area openings by next weekend.”  

To hear the full conversation, including a discussion of how most autumn rain starts as snow aloft – and what determines whether it becomes rain, sleet, freezing rain or snow, you can click on the 'play' icon at the top of this post. 

Weather with Cliff Mass airs at 9:02 a.m. Friday, right after 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