Mass: Snow in Lowlands Possible for Thanksgivikah Weekend

Nov 27, 2013

Uncertainty shrouds forecast models for the Thanksgiving weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, but two things are for certain: there will be snow—possibly in the lowlands, and it will get much colder. 

But first, the good news: neither of those things will have started as people head out of town on Wednesday, says Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and pens a popular blog

In fact, Thanksgiving will be “better than most,” and conditions will stay “pretty decent” with some clouds but no rain and temperatures in the 50s through Friday, says Mass.

Then things start going downhill on Friday and Saturday when we’ll see more clouds and maybe some light showers, too.

“But the real action starts on Sunday,” says Mass.

Expect ‘Several Feet’ of Snow in the Mountains

“We have an upper trough, a very strong one, that’s coming in from the north. And this is the classic pattern to bring cold—and possibly snow—here into the Northwest,” says Mass.

Mass is confident the mountains will see “serious snow” later on Sunday.

“We’re talking about several feet, the serious start of the ski season,” says Mass. "So if you're going to cross the Cascades, I would do it early as I could on Sunday morning or do it on Saturday. Because late Sunday, it's going to be snowing up there quite a bit."

Lowlands May See Snow, Too

The first chance of seeing any snow in the lowlands will be later on Sunday, says Mass.

“The models are now indicating potentially 2 or 3 inches in northern Snohomish County and out toward the Olympic Peninsula,” says Mass.

And interestingly, people who typically sit in the rain shadow near Sequim will possibly have the greatest chance of that snow.

“They are actually in a favorite area to get snow in this circumstance,” says Mass.

But Mass says the models are only showing a possibility—not a certainty—of snow in the lowlands.

“It’s in the cards that it could happen. But that doesn’t mean it will,” he says.

After the Snow, Blustery Cold

The snow will end early next week, and the temperatures will drop. Cold air will sweep in on Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday, temperatures will linger in the 30s, maybe even drop down into the teens in some places.

“There could be ice,” says Mass.

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The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU 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 a podcast of “Weather with Cliff Mass” shows.