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Rain gives way to some brighter, drier Northwest skies this weekend

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
A pair of snow geese fly over a farm field before landing, Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, near Conway, Wash., where they spend the winter after migrating from their nesting grounds in Siberia and Alaska.

An atmospheric river came through the Pacific Northwest last week, dousing the region with enough precipitation to bring accumulated rain levels almost back to normal after an extremely dry start to November. But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass said the storms were headed southward on Friday, giving California some much-needed rain.

And that means the greater Puget Sound area will be mostly dry, though Mass said Friday would start off with patchy rain.

Showery Friday

“We have very unstable air over the Northwest right now,” he said. “There’s another line (of showers) coming in off the Pacific right now. So, this morning we’ll see mainly cloudy skies, some rain.”

But he said expect a break in the wet stuff sometime Friday afternoon.

“And another band comes in sometime around dinner time, into the evening. So, some more showers,” Mass said.

Dry but cloudy Saturday

Mass says after the Friday system moves through, a drier pattern will start settling in, sometime Saturday morning.

“Actually, it won’t be a bad weekend,” he said.

Expect some residual showers on Saturday, and temperatures only getting up into the mid-40s.

“You might see a little bit of sun, but mainly cloudy, particularly in the morning,” Mass said.

But on Sunday, as the showers move off and high pressure starts building in, Mass says conditions will improve.

Increasingly sunny starting Sunday

“Highs in the mid- to upper-40s, clouds in the morning, but I think there’ll be some sun in the afternoon. So, generally dry on Sunday,” he said.

Mass says a ridge of high pressure will start to build over the Northwest early next week.

“And it’s going to be maybe cloudy with some fog in the mornings, but I think we’ll see sun every day, temperatures in the mid-40s,” he said.

He notes that’s cooler than the region has been so far this season and people may notice that.

“So, cool but dry for much of next week,” Mass said.

He added that an interesting aspect of our cool and dry pattern is how it’s connected to big storms heading south, into California.

“Even Southern California is going to get it,” Mass said. “So the water situation down there should improve dramatically over the next week.”

To hear the full conversation, including Cliff’s explanation of how the recent rains brought precipitation levels for the month back to normal but left snowpack way behind, 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