The “West Side (Weather) Story”


Ah, West Side Story. A classic, even for young’ns like me! But you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with weather?” It has A LOT to do with weather, actually! But maybe more indirectly than directly 😉

As Anita once said, “Come in! We won’t bite you until we know you better”, Mother Nature looks to be heading down the same road. November 2006 featured an impressive outbreak of cold, and later snow. January 2007 featured another helping of the goods. December 2008 spilled the coldest air in 20 years over the Northwest whilst dumping impressive amounts of snow in the lowlands.

And now…is 2009 next? Mother Nature bit us in 2006 and has continued to give us periods of extreme temperature anomalies since that time and it appears…”she knows us better” and could bite again.

If long range (heck, even short range!) models are correct, we could, at least momentarily, enter an “ice box” of sorts starting next weekend. Is everything set in stone? Heck no! But models have been toying around with this idea for a few days and has increased the strength and timing in certain models.

Now here are the things we need to make sure we understand going into this:

1. We have this big barrier that separates us between the Intermountain West: the Cascade and Rocky mountains (Click here to read KOMO Weather Producer Scott Sistek’s explanation on this). Often times models don’t take them into consdieration and give us more cold air than what is realistically possible. However, seeing such cold air show up as soon as next weekend gives me the impression that regardless of the mountains we’re going to get cold.

2. Models tend to sway between East and West with cold air. Sometimes too far east…sometimes too far west…we need it “in the sweet spot” so it hits us directly. At this point, we want a little more westward movement. That’s what made December 2008 the classic “West Side (Weather) Story”!

3. This cold air will be VERY dry. At this time (let me repeat this…) at this time (let me repeat it again) at this time snow does not look likely. The air is just too dry. BUT, we seem to find a way to make snow around here during our coldest periods. November 2006 and December 2008 both looked very dry before they actually struck…

And as I write this entry, the newest update is even colder for our area. But don’t be surprised to see a bit of wiffling and waffling before the actual event occurs…

As for this week, expect chilly nights in the 30s but partly to mostly cloudy days with highs in the mid 40s to low 50s. Pretty seasonable, if not slightly warmer than seasonable, for this time of year. Next weekend, however, could be a much different story.

As always, stay tuned to this blog for further updates and catch me on Twitter! (

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:



295 thoughts on “The “West Side (Weather) Story”

  1. I have been watching the gfs model and it is looking cold starting late next weekend. I remember last december starting like this on the models. Now we just need some undercuting storms from the sw. Should be a good couple weeks in the weather world around here.

  2. yep the models have deffinetlly been swaying and all the forecasters are going with the models a they sway and you said matthew on western usa wx i said about how the weather stations were going with the models you said it was very funny.

    but i have been online looking at both others and my pictues and videos of last years snow

    my excitment is building!


    P.S have you been able to get on today because i havent same thing last night it is bugging me so much!

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