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Rain, wind, mountain snow: Stormy Northwest weather continues

Erin Hennessey
Stormy weather over Seattle in December 2018.

After an unusually dry and sunny start to the season, fall in the Northwest is getting back to normal.  Earlier this week, Seattle charted the darkest day its skies had registered in three years, as clouds and wet weather blotted out the sun. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says the outlook for the week ahead is a smorgasbord of the things we usually get in winter around Western Washington.

“We have the full meal deal here: rain, wind, snow. What’s left?” Mass said.


The wind was the headline Friday morning, as the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for 1-7 p.m.

Mass says this “not so minor windstorm” is the first major blow of the season. “A low pressure center, fairly deep one, is moving up the coast – the strongest we’ve had in a long time,” he said.

Mass says expect gusty winds from the south starting in the late morning and throughout the day.

“And the winds could get strong. We’re talking about 30-50 mile per hour gusts. And I am certain that there’s going to be some power outages,” he said, as those winds hitting trees for the first time this season will bring branches down onto power lines.  


Mass says expect a bit of a break in the weather Saturday: “A few showers, nothing heavy.”

But on Sunday, a stronger front will come through, with “substantial rain and a little bit of wind, but not too much,” Mass said.

After that, Mass says it looks like the region will see a whole lot of weather coming in, much like what we’re in for this weekend. And it all adds up to a whole lot more precipitation.

“It’s amazing,” Mass said. “One system after the other, several moderate-to-strong atmospheric rivers.”

Mass says he expects between 10 and 20 inches of rain next week in some parts of the Olympics and North Cascades.

“So not only will it rain heavily, but there’s going to be flooding, at least on some of the rivers," Mass said. "So, that’s something to watch out about."


A bright side to all the dark and wet weather is the arrival of much-needed snow in the mountains.

“Early November, we didn’t get a lot of snow, we were way behind normal," Mass said. "We were only maybe 30-40 percent of normal. But that’s all changed."

The mountains got one to three feet of snow last week, enabling all the local ski areas to open for business. “Not every one of the slopes is open, but every area is open now,” Mass said.

And he predicts snow to continue coming down over the next few weeks.

“So we’ve gone from a way below normal snow pack to one that is rapidly approaching normal – and could well be above normal by the time we get to Christmastime,” Mass said.

To hear the full conversation, including Cliff’s description of how Seattle experienced its darkest day in three years on Tuesday, 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