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Expect a rainy week ahead, and maybe some snow

Rick Paul, left, and Sue Toy, right, walk along the Artist Ridge Trail, Aug. 26, 2014 at Artist Point. This week’s rain could complicate plans for a late-summer hike in the North Cascades, as forecasters say that snow will fall to elevations as low as 5,000 feet.
Rick Paul, left, and Sue Toy, right, walk along the Artist Ridge Trail, Aug. 26, 2014 at Artist Point. This week’s rain could complicate plans for a late-summer hike in the North Cascades, as forecasters say that snow will fall to elevations as low as 5,000 feet. The Bellingham Herald file

What seemed like an endless summer in the Northwest came to an abrupt halt over the weekend as the coldest overnight temperatures in four months arrived, and with the cooler weather comes the first heavy rains since June.

Expect rain off and on through Thursday in Whatcom County as the first of two weather systems arrive Sunday, followed by another storm front Wednesday, said Art Gaebel a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle. Highs will be in the low to mid-60s, with lows in the high 40s.

“This is not really a big system, it’ll produce about a quarter-inch of rain,” Gaebel said.

Overnight low of 41 on Saturday was the coldest since a low of 40 on May 9, according to National Weather Service records at Bellingham International Airport. It’s been June 8 since Bellingham has seen more than a quarter-inch of rain in one day – and before that, the last heavy rain was April 15.

“It’s definitely changed from what we’ve been used to,” Gaebel said. “Really, from mid-May on, this is the most rainfall we’ve seen. It won’t be really heavy, but off and on showers.”

Gaebel said the late-summer rain isn’t necessarily a sign that fall’s rainy season is arriving early. Cloudy skies and showers or a chance of showers are forecast through Friday, when partly sunny skies are expected.

This week’s rain could complicate plans for a late-summer hike in the North Cascades, as forecasters say that snow will fall to elevations as low as 5,000 feet. Elevation is 5,210 feet at Artist Point, a popular tourist destination at the east end of the Mount Baker Highway.

Forecasts indicated that little accumulation is likely, but that travelers and outdoor enthusiasts should be prepared for the change in weather.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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