Cliff Mass: Here’s where Seattle-area snow will hit this weekend

Dec 2, 2022, 4:09 PM
Edmonds snow...
Light snow blankets Edmonds this week. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba}

Another snow event is set to occur tonight into Saturday morning, but it won’t equal the volume and duration of snow seen earlier this week.

“This is not going to be a replay of a few days ago when North Seattle and Snohomish County got buried,” said Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, on The Jason Rantz Show. “So what’s going to happen is tonight, a weak front is coming in. There’ll be snow on the Olympics, and Kitsap County will get it. And I expect some snow, several inches, up in Whatcom County.”

As for Seattle, Mass isn’t holding his breath for snow to blanket the city.

“Seattle’s will be very little, maybe in the northwest side of the city and southern Snohomish County, then we may get a half-inch to an inch at the very most, and it could be zero,” Mass said. “So, not a big event here in central Puget Sound, but if you go to Kitsap, and you go up to Whatcom County, they could get something.”

Stevens Pass vows to do better during this ski and snowboard season

Eastern Washington is also expecting “not too much” snow, according to Mass. Most eastern Washington cities dwarf the western parts of the state in snow levels, as Leavenworth averages 80 inches of snow a year, followed by Winthrop (59 inches), Boundary Dam (55 inches), and Spokane (45 inches).

“The trouble is the front is coming in from the coast, and it’s kind of stalling along the coast,” Mass said. “So very little in eastern Washington. There’ll be another weak event on Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon and there’ll be some in Southwest Washington and a little bit in eastern Washington, but not a lot.”

Mass does believe the region will get a little warmer, with temperatures primed to reach the high-30s and maybe even low-40s through next week.

“It’ll definitely get above freezing, which means all the roads will be in good, good condition,” Mass said.

But will snow extend into next week? Or will it dissipate and be replaced with rain?

“What’s going to happen is the ridge of high pressure is going to build over our region from Monday through Wednesday, so it’ll be pretty dry, and then some sun, so pretty good,” Mass said. “The next system will be coming in on Thursday. And so there will be snow in the mountains quite a bit. But it’s going to be too warm for the lowland. We’ll get some rains in the lowland, there’ll be some snow in eastern Washington and in the Cascades. But that’s about it.”

Parts of the state, including Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Federal Way, are under a weather advisory warning lasting from 10 a.m. today until 10 a.m. Saturday.

“I think weather is also kind of religious,” Mass said. “It’s like a nondenominational religion that people hold and, and when it gets extreme, people know that there’s a power greater than them, and they’re interested in it.”

But with weather coverage comes pushback, as many residents have voiced their displeasure in the anxiety the media coverage brings and illuminates when covering severe weather stories. People have even used the term “weather terrorists” to describe meteorologists on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit.

“Do you laugh at some of the media coverage?” asked Rantz.

“Well, I mean, the media likes weather, because the people really get interested,” Mass responded. “I have a blog and when there’s snow, the readership goes up by like a factor of three to five. So people are really interested in weather, and it’s only for how it affects them.”

But Mass wasn’t immune to the incessant coverage, citing The Seattle Times as a local example of fearmongering when bridging extreme weather to climate change.

“It is true whenever there’s any kind of extreme weather, certain folks like to blame it on climate change,” Mass said. “There’s a certain local newspaper in town that does this in spades. So I mean, The Seattle Times is constantly exaggerating, hyping climate change. Climate change is real, and by that, I mean global warming, the planet is slowly warming up and we’re probably contributing to it a little bit, or quite a bit. But the extreme weather is not all explained by climate change, and every major storm doesn’t mean we’re causing it.”

Snow moving back into the Puget Sound region Friday

According to Washington climate scientists, the number of very hot days and extreme heat events will increase across the state because of climate change, though by how much varies depending on location and future greenhouse gas emissions.

As for winter weather, the verdict remains inconclusive. In February 2019, over 20 inches of measurable snow fell, shattering a 70-year record for the month, according to Axios. Two years later, Seattle recorded its single snowiest day in 52 years when 8.9 inches fell on Feb. 13. The 2021-22 winter season recorded just 9.2 inches of snow in comparison to that singular day.

The debate within the science community is whether these patterns of extreme weather are directly correlated to climate change, or if it’s the effects of a La Niña winter.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Cliff Mass: Here’s where Seattle-area snow will hit this weekend