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Cool, Rainy Saturday Will Clear Smoke From Puget Sound Sky, Sunshine Returns Sunday

Elaine Thompson / File
AP Photo
A pair of small airplanes flies into Boeing Field and in view of Mount Rainier at dusk Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Seattle.

Enjoy the warmth while you can. After a long string of warmer-than-usual, sunny skies in the greater Puget Sound area, cooler temps and rain are in the weekend forecast.  

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday will be the last really warm day for a while.

“A lot of people are going to see the low 80s and plenty of sun,” he said of Friday’s weather.

“But tomorrow, an upper level trough (of lower pressure) will come through. And that’s going to bring guaranteed clouds, guaranteed rain, and I think some thunderstorms as well.”

Rainy Saturday Will Clear Smokey Skies

He estimates there’s a 60-70 percent chance of rain on Saturday in the region, “no matter where you are.”

But Mass says it’s badly needed after days of dry warmth and wildfires generating smoky haze on the horizon.

“It will do one thing,” he says. “It will move the smoke out.”

Temps Dropping Too 

He says the upper level trough will bring with it winds from the west, which will push the smoke out of the region. It will also push temperatures down.

“To the mid- to maybe upper-70s,” Mass says. “Not above 80. So it will be a pretty cool day.”

He says Sunday will be a little bit warmer. “Upper 70s for sure and plenty of sun.”

And then as we get into Monday and Tuesday, Mass says high pressure builds in again and temperatures will get back into the lower 80s.

“So, we’re going to get a substantial break on Saturday. Things will get wetted down, but it won’t last for long,” he said.

More Fires Likely

The much-needed rain and winds that will clear the air also come with a downside: the prospect of lighting that could start more wildfires.

“That’s the problem,” Mass said. “This kind of pattern, with this upper level trough coming off the ocean, tends to produce lightning. So, there will be some thunderstorms. And that’s our bane during the mid-summer.”

At this time of year, he notes, the ground is dry,  as are the fuels of wildfire: brush, shrubs and grass or tree limbs that can easily ignite if caught by a spark.

“It’s almost guaranteed that some of these lightning strikes are going to cause fires sometime over the weekend,” Mass said. “So the people in the forest service and others are going to have to be on top of these fires, to put them out as soon as they occur.”

To hear the full conversation, including Cliff’s update on the El Niño watch that’s in place and the likelihood of a warmer, drier fall and winter ahead, 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, anda popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to podcasts of Weather with Cliff Mass shows, viaiTunes or 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