Whatcom County's summer dry spell is about to be drowned out by a series of storms that should drench the area and usher in more typical fall weather.
National Weather Service forecasters say the rain will be heavy at times. Up to 4 inches could fall through Monday night in some coastal areas, but it's more likely to be about half that. The North Cascades could get 2 to 5 inches. The expected rainfall could change because the exact storm track wasn't yet known.
Wind will accompany the rain. South southeast wind speeds will be in the teens Friday and Saturday, according to the Bellingham forecast.
"It's a pretty dramatic change in the weather, considering the really unusual spell of dry weather and sunshine," meteorologist Doug McDonnal said.
The first storm should arrive Friday morning with showers and go into Saturday. The second system is expected late Saturday and will bring the heavier rain. Showers are expected well through next week.
The Washington State Patrol is advising drivers to slow down and be extra careful. The weeks of dry weather have allowed grease and grime to build up on roads, so they will be a lot slicker than normal once the rain hits them.
It's also time to bring in the patio umbrella, cover the grill, secure anything likely to blow away and do other fall outdoor chores postponed by the warm, sunny weeks.
Friday's rain is expected to close the record book on one of the driest stretches in state history.
Thursday marked the 81st day with precipitation of no more than 0.03 inch at Sea-Tac Airport. The previous record was 75 dry days in 1922, said meteorologist Johnny Burg.
Seattle had a stretch of 48 days with no precipitation at all that ended on Sept. 9, second to the record 51 rainless in Seattle days set in 1951.
Bellingham had the second-driest September on record, with only 0.15 inch of rain recorded at Bellingham International Airport.
The rain showers will be especially welcome in the parts of Eastern Washington where wildfires have been burning for more than a month and continue to smolder.
"I think everybody's relieved we're going to see a change here and forecast conditions are going to be less volatile and less of a threat," said state Emergency Management spokesman Rob Harper.
It will take time and more rain or snow to finally extinguish five still-smoldering wildfires, said Bryan Flint, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources.