El Niño | KNKX

El Niño

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

It happens every year. As the summer wanes and fall sets in, people start thinking about the coming winter and how much snow we’ll get, especially in the mountains.

In the Pacific Northwest, that can mean dreams of snowy ski slopes or how much snow pack we’ll have to fill reservoirs and water dry streams when the spring melt comes.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

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.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

‘April showers bring May flowers,’ or so the saying goes. Like Groundhog Day or dozens of sayings you can find cataloged in a Farmer’s Almanac, it’s part of the weather-related folklore that’s been passed down for generations. They hold some truth.

But most meteorologists prefer more scientific observations. For long-term forecasting, the ENSO - or "El Niño Southern Oscillation" - provides some of the most reliable guidance on what kind of weather to expect in winter.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Saturday should provide a respite from the bout of rain and snow showers that have been hanging around Western Washington this week.

Best to get out and enjoy it if you can, says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass. On Sunday, the threat of snow showers returns, although temperatures will stay warm enough to keep much of the white stuff from sticking.

Get Outdoors On Saturday  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Thursday that a weak and short-lived La Niña weather phenomenon is over.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A good weekend for getting outdoors and enjoying nature lies ahead, with mild temps  and mostly dry conditions in the Northwest, and sun peeking through the clouds.

“It’ll be very nice, said knkx weather expert Cliff Mass on Friday morning. “A ridge of high pressure is building over us as I speak.”

He says the low clouds that are hanging around in places such as the South Sound will give way as the day progresses.

“It will be partly sunny by the afternoon, temperatures getting up into the upper 40s to around 50. So, really decent day,” Mass said.

Tim Durkan Photography

The warm temperatures and sunny skies many folks have been enjoying this week in Western Washington will continue through most of the weekend and reappear after a short rainy spell Sunday night, says KPLU’s weather expert, Cliff Mass.

“The weather gods are still with us,” he said. And Friday will be a “really perfect day,” with temperatures reaching near 70, plenty of sun and no precipitation.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Keep your rain gear handy and catch some sunshine while you can. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a weak front showing up on the weather radar will arrive in the greater Seattle area sometime after 4 p.m. Friday, putting an end to the sunny skies many of us have been experiencing for the past week.   

Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

A ridge of high pressure is heading in our direction and that will mean warmer weather and sunny skies. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it'll feel "spring-like." But we will have to contend with some rain and snow for just a bit longer.

"And it'll be pretty heavy tonight. Some good, heavy showers. In the mountains, as the front moves through in the evening and on Saturday morning, we'll see snow developing," he says.

Maybe El Niño isn't as bad as its reputation.

El Niño is an ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific that crops up every few years and alters world weather patterns. And the world is in the middle of a big El Niño that roughly began in May 2015 and will continue for at least several more months this year.

This El Niño has already been linked to a series of weather-related disasters: Massive flooding in Paraguay. Drought in Ethiopia. Another looming food crisis in Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

Tim Durkan Photography

What do mid-winter doldrums in western Washington, gunky skies east of us and the extremely wet weather to the south have in common?

All are connected to the very strong El Niño that still reigns over the weather systems that are dousing California and keeping skies over the Cascadia region mostly dry and “very boring” according to KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

Blame El Niño

AP Images

Statistically speaking, it generally is the driest time of year in western Washington. Because of this, late July into early August is the most popular time for outdoor weddings and family reunions in the region.

But showers are in the forecast this weekend. If you were thinking of getting outdoors, you’ll have to travel east over the mountain passes, advises KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. He says there’s a band of precipitation approaching from the west that will definitely dampen the region, pretty much anywhere west of the Cascades.

Tim Durkan Photography

The mid-week warm weather has been replaced by a cool swath of marine air that will linger for the early weekend and then dissipate into warmer temperatures come Sunday and Monday, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Expect temperatures in the upper 60s to the low 70s with morning clouds for Saturday and early Sunday, Mass said.  The warmer temperatures -- potentially into low 80s -- will return briefly later Sunday and Monday. Cooler weather then will reassert itself late Monday.

AP Images

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass said he is is staring at a virtual 10.

"The weather will be as close to perfect as you can imagine," Mass said Friday. "No precipitation for anybody. Full sun for virtually everyone."

The temperature on Friday will hit the middle to upper 70s, Mass said.  Saturday will get warmer still with the heat pushing into the low 80s for Western Washington.  Sunday will be more of the same.

While warm, the weather isn't in full-hot mode, Mass said. The high pressure system off-shore will remain stable through the early part of the week with light winds picking up around 3 p.m. 

Northwest weather will return from it's vacation late in the week with some rain and clouds.

Mass said what we are seeing is a strong El Nino effect that will continue through winter.

Tim Durkan

Go ahead and gloat. We’ve got one of those hot, sunny August western Washington weekends ahead that make it worth living here despite the long, dark winters.

Low clouds will melt away, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, as temperatures steadily rise over the weekend, hitting 90 maybe even as early as Sunday and certainly by Monday.  

“A warming period is going to happen,” said Mass. “And that’s because a trough that brought us cooler temperatures this week is moving off and a pretty high-amplitude ridge is building in its place.”

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

This summer in the Pacific Northwest will be warmer than average, according to the National Weather Service.

The supercomputers at the Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center have crunched long-term trends to produce an outlook for June, July and August. For most of the Northwest, the forecast gives a strong probability of above-normal temperatures.