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Had enough of the cold? Here’s what to expect this weekend and beyond

People stroll down Taylor Dock. Forecasters say warmer days are expected in the area next week but with the possibility for significant rainfall.
People stroll down Taylor Dock. Forecasters say warmer days are expected in the area next week but with the possibility for significant rainfall. The Bellingham Herald

Northwest Washington is on the verge of a reprieve from the bone-chilling cold of the past several weeks as a weather system flows in from the west this weekend, bringing clouds and more seasonable temperatures.

“We’re looking at highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s” by Saturday, said meteorologist Josh Smith with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

That’s quite a change from the past several weeks, as high pressure over the region allowed a river of frigid air to stream south from British Columbia. The weather pattern, called the “Fraser outflow,” has persisted for an unusually long time, Smith said – so long that last month was one of the coldest Decembers on record.

It’s been sunny, but daytime high temperatures frequently have been near freezing, some 10 to 15 degrees below normal, giving Bellingham an average December high of 38.9 degrees, well below the normal December high of 44.2 degrees.

“That is one of the top 10 coldest Decembers going back to when we began keeping records in Bellingham since 1949,” Smith said. “You can expect a December that cold to occur every eight years or so.”

Cold and clear weather will continue through Friday with highs in the 30s, Smith said. Then, a weak lower-pressure system will bring a few clouds Saturday night and Sunday, along with a slow warming trend.

“Beginning on Saturday night, we have a chance of rain coming,” Smith said. “It’s going to switch from a dry, sunny pattern to a chance of rain.”

Long-range forecasts see the possibility of significant rainfall with temperatures near 50 degrees Tuesday through Thursday next week, but Smith said it’s too soon to predict that with certainty.

Smith also said it’s too soon to tell if the Fraser outflow pattern will recur.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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