Sunshine lies ahead after a few drizzly days, but what do the dry conditions mean for the state? | KNKX

Sunshine lies ahead after a few drizzly days, but what do the dry conditions mean for the state?

May 24, 2019

There will be a few more wet, cool days before the weather transitions on Sunday to warm and sunny. The drier conditions have many state officials worried about the wildfire season. Gov. Jay Inslee announced a drought declaration this week, but KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says things may not be as bad as they seem. 

In his most recent blog post he compares this year's data with years past and finds the conditions we're experiencing aren't really that unusual. 

"We have some parts of the state that are a little bit drier than normal," he said. "The snowpack is down maybe 20, 30 percent in some parts of the Cascades. We had precipitation being less than normal in the southwest part of the state. But all in all, it's not very serious." 

Mass says the snowpack percentages aren't that low and the reservoir levels around the state are actually "quite good." And he explains we have dry summers here typically, though models from the National Weather Service are suggesting the state may actually experience a wetter-than-normal summer. 

"Now, we can get excited about that, but the truth is that our summers are normally very, very dry," Mass said. "We, in fact, have the driest summers of almost the whole United States. In July, our average rainfall at Sea-Tac is 0.7 inches. That's drier than Phoenix or Tuscon. So, if we're a little bit drier than normal, even if we were, it really wouldn't make much of a difference."

Mass says there's no reason to expect a major drought to develop during the summer. He says the models are predicting there will be wet weather at least into early June. 

To hear the full conversation, 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.