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Classic Northwest Spring: Cloudy Skies And Mostly Dry Again This Weekend

Courtesy of Seattle Space Needle Panocam
Virga seen from the Seattle Space Needle Panocam at 7 PM Saturday evening, March 24, 2018. Click on the "play " icon below to hear Cliff's explanation of how they form and why they're common this time of year.

A predominantly cloudy period has dominated in the greater Puget Sound region this past week, with intermittent showers and mostly mild temperatures. That pattern is expected to continue into next week, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass – with one exception.

Sunny And Warm On Saturday

“There’s going to be a big break on Saturday,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. “Saturday will be the day to be out.”

He says there will be a few clouds in the morning, but they’ll break up.

“So there’ll be sun, temperatures will zoom at least to 60 and some people will see low 60s,” he said.  “So Saturday’s definitely the day to get out there – for a hike or any kind of picnic or anything you want.”

Cloudy Friday

Mass says Friday’s weather will be dominated by a phenomenon he calls a "dirty ridge"

“High pressure, but not high enough to keep the clouds out,” Mass said.  

So it will be overcast with a few sprinkles, he says.

“Nothing heavy. Temperatures only getting up to maybe 58-59 at the highest today. So, an ok day,” Mass said.

Colder Sunday – Possible Snow Showers Overnight

He says on Sunday, things are going to go downhill. The day will start out ok, with a few clouds and  not too much rain.

“But, later in the day, an upper level trough – a very cold one – will move towards us. So we’ll cloud in on Sunday. I think we’ll see some light rain mid- to late-day. Temperatures will drop, probably down into the lower 50s – that’ll be the high,” he said.  

He says expect more of that cool and showery pattern overnight from Sunday into Monday.

“There could even be a few snow showers that get down to 500 feet, Sunday night into Monday morning. So just watch for that,” Mass said.

Mass says then it looks like Monday and Tuesday will be partly cloudy with just a few showers. He expects heavier rain to come through later in the week.

“Thursday-Friday some real systems will be coming in,” he said.

Overall, Mass says this is a pretty classic period of spring showers that we’re experiencing. It’s very typical weather for the Northwest at this time of year.

“And in fact, if you look [back] at the whole winter, we’re almost exactly on track for precipitation,” he says.  “Just a little bit above normal. And temperatures have been above normal and below normal, but averaged out, it’s ending up a pretty normal winter.”

To hear the full conversation – including a discussion of the cloud phenomenon known as ‘virga’ that  dazzled many cloud-gazers last weekend and why virga are seen most commonly at this time of year – 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