Western Washington Looks Toward Hot Weekend After a Cold Spring


After months of cold, rainy weather, Washington is looking to potentially shake off its cold snap this weekend. According to the Seattle office of the National Weather Service (NWS), Western Washington is looking at weather in the 80s this weekend, with Sunday possibly reaching into the 90s.

“Three days well into the 80s, really for all of Lewis County,” Matthew Cullen, a meteorologist with the NWS, told The Chronicle on Wednesday morning.

According to Cullen, Saturday is expected to reach 85 degrees while Sunday is expected to reach up to 89, “or even 90,” degrees before dropping back down to around 86 degrees on Monday.

“After Monday, we’re expecting closer to normal temperatures,” Cullen said, adding, “We’re not sure how quickly the temperature will drop back to normal.”

According to Cullen, the decline in temperatures early next week could happen rapidly beginning later on Monday and early Tuesday or it could happen more gradually over the course of Tuesday.

Cullen said temperatures would be returning to typical temperatures for the season.

“It’ll be normal for this time of year again,” Cullen said. “We tend to have a high temperature in the low 70s around this time of year. We may actually be warmer and even drier than it’s been for much of the spring so far.”

Cullen explained the cold and rainy weather Washington has experienced the last few months has been the result of a low pressure weather pattern.

“We’ve been seeing a fairly active pattern of low pressure, which means cooler and wetter weather,” said Cullen. “Now, we’re starting to see high pressure coming in for warmer and drier weather.”

But Cullen cautioned not to expect “very hot and very dry” weather past the next few days.

“Current outlook for the next two weeks is drier than normal and near normal temperatures for the season,” Cullen said. “But looking ahead to the whole season, there really is not a whole signal.”

According to Cullen, long-term outlooks aren’t something the NWS looks at. Instead, long-term predictions for weather are under the purview of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), which is another agency under the NWS’ parent entity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cullen said their office has been in contact with the CPC and said the agency’s data paints an unclear picture.

“Equal chances, odds don’t favor warmer or cooler. We have no sense of how the season as a whole will be,” he said.

Cullen told The Chronicle the next few weeks could be critical in determining the risks of wildfires the state would face this summer.

“What happens from here on out is the biggest determiner of fire risk,” Cullen said. “Once we get into the summer, as things start getting hotter and drier, that could cause everything to dry out. What happens in the next three to four to five weeks would be a big determiner.”

Cullen said a slower start to the summer season would be potentially beneficial in preventing the buildup of fuel fires would use, should they start, whether by natural or human-made causes.

He also raised concerns about the potential effects the region’s unusually cold spring could have on river safety this summer.

“There are two effects to look out for,” Cullen said. “Water temps will remain quite cool in the rivers, which is important especially with hot weather. It does not take long in the water with low temperatures even when the air is hot. Cold water shock is the most common thing that can occur.”

He said the second issue is increased flows and stronger currents in rivers, though he said flooding issues shouldn’t be a problem in Western Washington this summer.

He also said people should enter and swim in the water safely, and said to always bring a life jacket.

Cullen also expressed a need for caution regarding the sudden shift in general temperatures the region will be experiencing this weekend.

“With the cool spring we had the temperatures we’ve had the high temperatures could be bad for the heat sensitive and those working out. Your body won’t be acclimated. Drink water. Don’t overwork your body. The first heat stress of the year tends to be the most dangerous. Avoid direct sunlight, avoid the heat of the day,” he said.