Meteorologist Josh Smith isn’t going out on a limb to predict record rainfall this weekend — but he does say the limbs will be stripped bare.
“The leaves are literally going to be blown off the trees,” Smith said.
Puget Sound’s version of autumn is here. Two weather systems are coming our way, each expected to drop up to 1½ inches of rain. Smith, with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said there’s a chance we’ll end up having the rainiest September since 1978.
The first weather system, expected to blow in from the West on Saturday morning, should bring steady rain all day and winds of 10 to 25 miles per hour with 35 mph gusts.
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The winds will be strongest in the afternoon, Smith said. That’s when Huskies fans will be heading into the new stadium at the University of Washington for a game set to begin at 4 p.m.
State Patrol spokesman Chris Webb has some simple advice for people headed to any of the three sporting events in Seattle this weekend — the Huskies game, the Mariners’ game at Safeco Field shortly after noon and the Washington State University Cougars game at CenturyLink Field at 7 p.m.
“Leave early and be patient,” Webb said. “It’s amazing what a difference that can make.”
A second weather system is expected to hit just as the first abates, Smith said, making for a full weekend of wind and rain.
The second system will be in play all day Sunday, bringing another 1½ inches of rain to the city and slightly higher winds of 15 to 25 miles an hour with the possibility of 40 mph gusts, Smith said.
By the end of the weekend, the National Weather Service will likely know whether the two storms will make this the rainiest September in Seattle since 1978.
The weekend storms are not expected to be particularly powerful or destructive. Nevertheless, they are unusual for the time of year, Smith said.
“This is going to be something you more typically see in the late fall,” he said.
Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen said the utility prepares for fall and winter storms year-round.
Over the past 12 months, crews trimmed trees along 650 miles of power lines, in hopes of preventing outages that occur when lines are pulled down by trees and branches, he said.
Tom Pearce, a spokesman with the Washington State Department of Transportation, said crews have begun clearing storm drains and catch basins to prevent street flooding.
This is done in preparation for the rainy season in general and not just for this weekend’s predicted storms, he said.
“We’re making sure they are clear, but drivers can help by allowing more following distance and being aware,” Pearce said.
Other agencies in the region used the weekend forecast to send out information on how to prepare for flooding. Snohomish County released a statement asking residents to clear storm drains and culverts, stock up on basic supplies and create an emergency-evacuation plan.
In Pierce County, the Department of Emergency Management has deployed “river-watch volunteers to have their eyes on the river,” said agency spokeswoman Sheri Badger.
Pierce County has a number of rivers that need to be watched during flood season, she said, but the Puyallup River near Orting is usually the biggest concern.
River watchers have been trained to read gauges, take pictures and call in real-time information. Badger said Pierce County is not expecting major problems this weekend, but has heavy equipment standing by.
“One of the nice things about flooding, if you can say that, is that we usually know about six to 12 hours in advance so we can come in and do some sandbagging if we need to,” she said.
Smith, the meteorologist, said the weather systems will feel to the average Western Washingtonian like one long, rainy weekend.
Trooper Chris Webb said we should do just fine if we’re all a little extra careful.
“That’s the great thing about this area,” said Webb, who plans to be at the Huskies game with his family, rain or shine. “We don’t let the weather back us off from going out and doing things.”
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org