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What’s with the snow in Seattle?

We had a sunny week—what happened?

The Space Needle on a snowy day in 2016.
Checubus/Shutterstock

March in Seattle can be a little chaotic, as evidenced by the weather on Friday morning. A mostly sunny week ended with snow at some elevations—in some areas, mixed with rain—caused by, according to the National Weather Service (NWS)’s Seattle branch, an unstable air mass.

“Showers in the cool, unstable air mass over [Western Washington] are falling as snow to an elevation of 300 to 500 feet this morning,” read a tweet from NWS Seattle sent about 9 a.m. Friday. “Temperatures in the mid 30s to lower 40s will rise slowly over the next few hours. Accumulations should amount to just a whitening of unpaved surfaces.”

While the snow should let up by around noon, said NWS meteorologist Doug McDonnal, we’re not done with that air mass. “I think that the snow should gradually lessen but the showers won’t,” McDonnal said. The snow, said McDonnal, “causes the air mass to be a little more unstable.”

“The mix of rain and snow showers this morning will gradually transition to showers and possibly thunderstorms and possibly some small hail,” added McDonal, although if hail were to happen it “would be really localized.”

Asked whether there’s more snow in Seattle’s future, McDonal said that “it’s going to become less likely”—but precipitation should continue.

“There will be some showers tomorrow and Sunday but the showers will be less numerous and they should be lighter as well,” continued McDonal. “So I think as far as seeing snow showers the next few hours is probably the best bet over the course of the next week.”