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Winter’s over for now – but flooding, landslides could lie ahead

Employees Jodie Sonnon, left, and Kenize Renkert laugh Monday morning, Feb. 13, 2017, while carrying flower bouquets to A New Leaf Flower Shoppe in downtown Bellingham in preparation for Valentine's Day. Tuesday will start sunny and mild, with highs in the mid-50s. Clouds will arrive in late afternoon, and rain by evening.
Employees Jodie Sonnon, left, and Kenize Renkert laugh Monday morning, Feb. 13, 2017, while carrying flower bouquets to A New Leaf Flower Shoppe in downtown Bellingham in preparation for Valentine's Day. Tuesday will start sunny and mild, with highs in the mid-50s. Clouds will arrive in late afternoon, and rain by evening. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

After one of the colder Decembers on record, a chilly January and early February’s brutal ice, wind and snow, you might be wondering if winter’s finally going to ease its grip on Whatcom County.

Especially after a spring-like Monday, which was sunny with temperatures in the mid-50s.

“I’d say it’s too soon to tell,” said meteorologist Josh Smith at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “It’s not over, but it’s over for now.”

Smith said Western Washington residents should keep an eye on the forecast because a storm that is approaching from the west has the potential to dump enough rain to raise fears of flooding and landslides, especially in areas where large amounts of snow fell and melted last week.

“That might be a concern. There is quite a bit of rainfall expected,” Smith said.

Smith said Tuesday will start sunny and mild, with highs in the mid-50s. Clouds will arrive in late afternoon, and rain by evening. Wednesday will be windy and rainy, with temperatures in the mid-40s and gusty winds at 25-30 mph. Rain is expected to continue Thursday, with a chance of showers daily through the weekend.

That warmer and rainier cycle looks like it will continue, at least in the short term, Smith said.

A La Niña weather pattern that had been influencing West Coast weather is weakening toward a more neutral outlook, he said. Longer-range climate models show a weak chance of above-normal temperatures and a greater chance of above-normal rainfall.

“For now, it looks like we’ll be a little warmer than we have been,” Smith said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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