The calm after the storm: Seattle weather mellows out

Dec 11, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 10:15 am

Seattle record dry streak, rain...

A view of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle. (National Weather Service)

(National Weather Service)

The weather this week looks to be much more tranquil than last week, good timing for college students taking finals and heading home, holiday shoppers visiting stores, and travelers having fewer weather worries. Overall, this week will involve drier weather thanks to higher pressure hovering over the Pacific Northwest.

The only exception will be a couple of weak Pacific weather systems tracking onshore bringing a little light rain at times from late Wednesday into Friday. There will be some sunshine at times early this week and again this coming weekend. With some clearing of the skies, that also means areas of night and morning fog in the usual locations.

Fortunately, temperatures this week will be around average for mid-December with overnight lows ranging from the mid-30s to lower 40s, and highs from 45 to 50 degrees. Scraping ice off windshields and icy roads should not be an issue this week.

For those traveling over the Cascades, snow levels are expected to range from 3,500 to 5,000 feet, and any precipitation that falls later this week should be quite light in comparison to what fell last week.

This week’s drier calmer weather will be in sharp contrast to the atmospheric river and heavy amounts of rainfall, resulting in river flooding. Recapping the event last week, from Sunday evening to Wednesday morning, 2 to 4 inches of rain fell in the lowlands, foothill locations received between 4 to 7 inches, and in the Cascades, 7 to 10 inches.

During the preceding weekend, several feet of long-awaited snow fell in the Cascades. Not all of that fresh snow melted and ran off into the swollen rivers, despite the myth that was the case. As an example, Stevens Pass Sunday had 38 inches of snow and by Wednesday, snow on the ground had dropped to 19 inches.

The heavy amount of rainfall in the foothills and lowlands is what drove the rapid rise of rivers. Thankfully with the dry latter part of November and rivers running lower than average, the rivers had some elbow room for this burst of heavy rainfall from the atmospheric river.

Unfortunately, all that rain saturated soils and it is going to take time for the threat of landslides on steeper slopes to ease. This week’s drier weather should help reduce that landslide threat and continue to permit area rivers to recede some more.

Cooler more showery weather followed early last week’s atmospheric river with snow levels falling back to around pass levels. During the remainder of the week and this past weekend, about a foot to 18 inches of new snow fell in the passes.

If the longer-range forecast charts are on track, the western Washington Christmas holiday weekend is looking wet. For those desiring a White Christmas, that most likely will be the case in the mountains and in parts of Eastern Washington.

Ted Buehner is KIRO Newsradio’s meteorologist.


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