Don’t put away your hat and gloves. It’s going to stay cold for the next week or so and there will be snow on Friday. That much is certain, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass. The rest of the weekend forecast is tricky.
“It’s very difficult. But I’ll tell you what I know for sure,” he said.
Record Low Temps
“One thing I’m sure of is we’ve had very cold weather the last few days. In fact, there’s been a number of low temperature records for the day, in a number of cities around the area,” Mass said.
Those included Seattle, Bellingham, Hoquiam and Quillayute. Olympia had the lowest low, hitting 13 degrees on Wednesday and far surpassing the previous low of 18 degrees, set in 1957.
On Friday morning, the temps continued to break records, with lows hitting 24 in Seattle, 19 in Bellingham and 16 in Olympia.
“Again, these were all-time record lows for the date,” Mass said.
Snow on Friday – And Heavy Snow In The Mountains
Another certainty in this forecast, Mass says, is snow on Friday.
“Not a lot here in the lowlands, but we will see snow,” he said. All the necessary factors are in place.
“It’s cold over us, the air is relatively dry – which is important – and a weather system is now approaching,” he said early Friday, adding that he expects that system to start dropping snow sometime in the early to mid-afternoon.
“Certainly by around 3 o' clock. And over Seattle, expect half an inch to an inch of snow,” Mass said.
He says in the northwest part of the state there should be more, from 2 to 4 inches. But regardless of the exact amount, it will happen.
“There’s going to be snow in the lowlands this afternoon,” Mass said.
He’s also certain there will be a lot more snow falling at higher elevations this weekend.
“The mountains are going to get plastered during the next day or two,” Mass said. “We’re talking about several feet. That’s for sure.”
“So, what do I know for sure? Lowland snow later on today and then heavy snow in the mountains,” Mass said.
Potential For Several Inches Of Lowland Snow Sunday
Mass says Saturday should provide a respite from the snowy pattern in the lower elevations.
“The temperatures are going to be a little bit on the edge. There’s not going to be a lot of precipitation because a weather system has moved through. So there’ll be a break tomorrow afternoon and evening,” he said.
Sunday’s forecast is where it really starts to get difficult.
“The temperature’s right on the edge for getting snow in the lowlands,” Mass said. He expects precipitation to start as rain initially. “But later on Sunday, I think there’s a chance that we’re going to switch back into snow, Sunday night into Monday morning,” he said, adding that Seattle could get covered in the white stuff.
“There’s potential for a few inches. But I have to really stress that the models are all over the place,” Mass said. “We have ensembles that give us a number of different forecasts and there’s tremendous uncertainty on Sunday.”
He says it should become clearer as the time draws nearer and people should check the forecasts to see how it shapes up.
“There potentially could be nothing on Sunday-Sunday night or there could be three or four inches,” Mass said. “I can’t tell you right now for sure. “
Extended Cold Period Continues
Mass is certain that it won’t be getting warmer anytime soon.
“We are stuck in this pattern that is keeping us on the cool side,” he said. That’s due to a ridge of high pressure offshore with cool northerly flow on its eastern side, which is bringing in the low temps.
“And that’s going to be sustained. So we are going to be below normal, way into the next week. I don’t see an end to it,” Mass said.
He says when disturbances hit that system, it can produce rain or snow. So be ready for more wintery weather.
“We’re not out of the woods, there could be a snow event mid-week next week,” Mass said.
To hear the full conversation – including a discussion of why Seattle has been largely spared from the snow that's been hitting the region – 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 iTunes or Google Play.