Under the weather: Finally — the long-awaited rain returns to the Pacific Northwest

In case you haven’t heard yet…the rain is coming back, baby! It’s been an absolutely brutal few weeks with smoke that just didn’t want to go away. At the time of writing this on Thursday morning, most of the area ranges from AQIs in the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy categories, with some stations even in the Hazardous category.

Check out the map that displays the AQIs for Thursday morning below, courtesy of the Washington Smoke Blog.

Zeroing in on the monitor at Lake Forest Park Town Center, we can see the history of AQIs over the past several days.

Just by eyeballing it, we can see that air quality has been Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange) or worse about half of the time over the past 10 days or so — and it’s been noticeable. The smell outside has been awful. I hope everyone has been careful and limiting time outdoors when possible. I’ve seen that many outdoor sporting events have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the smoke, which I am very glad to see. At these concentrations, even healthy individuals can be impacted by the unhealthy air.

My former professor, Cliff Mass, wrote an excellent blog on why the air quality has been so bad, particularly this week, even when the fires in our state have not been that bad. I encourage you to check it out here.

Thankfully, we are finally about to turn the corner, stepping away from the extension of summer and toward the weather that we should have been seeing for weeks now. The rain is coming!

Since the start of meteorological fall (Sept. 1), Paine Field has only seen 0.07 inches of rain through Oct. 19 — the lowest on available record. The second lowest in the same period was 1.33 inches. It wasn’t even close.

If we look at Sea-Tac’s more complete and longstanding data, this year is tied for the second lowest amount in the same date range, which can be seen in the chart below.

Friday is the big day. By Friday afternoon, the first of a series of fronts is expected to arrive. You better believe I will be outside rejoicing when we finally see those glorious raindrops falling from the sky. The rain is expected to continue through Friday night and into Saturday. Saturday should be more showery. In all, models are suggesting a little more than a half-inch of rain will fall from Friday into Saturday, which would more than double the amount of rain we’ve seen since July 1—a span of over 110 days. Holy cow.

A break in between storms is expected on Sunday, with mostly dry weather before the second system that’s due Sunday night into Monday. A third system is expected Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Besides the rain, one of the biggest shocks coming this weekend may be the cooler temperatures. At this point of the year, average high temperatures are near the mid-50s with average lows in the mid-40s. As the forecast graphic shows, highs on Friday and Saturday are looking to be in the low 50s, which is below average. We have not seen high temperatures this low since May, so it may take a bit to adjust to. Temperatures are expected to be closer to normal starting Sunday and into next week. Even this will feel quite chilly compared to last Sunday’s record-setting 87-degree day (that’s nearly a 30-degree difference in just a week!).

With this change in the weather pattern, it’s important to remember how to safely drive in the rain. Check out the following graphic, courtesy of the National Weather Service.

To say that fall weather is long overdue is quite the understatement, but I think most of us are ready for the cooler weather and rain. I think if most people had to choose from hot/smoky weather and cool/rainy weather, there would be no contest — so enjoy your victory this weekend! Fall is finally upon us. Better late than never!

Have a great weekend.

— By Kelsie Nelson

Kelsie Nelson is a meteorologist and recent University of Washington graduate who grew up in Lynnwood and now lives in Kenmore. After writing weather blogs as a KOMO News intern, she discovered a passion for writing about weather. You can learn more in her blog www.wxnoggin.com and you can also follow her on Twitter at @kels_wx3. Questions can be directed to Kelsie at kelsie@myedmondsnews.com.



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