Wild weather gone; rain to stick around

A funnel cloud and hail that pelted parts of Snohomish County Friday aren’t expected to make an encore over the holiday weekend, but you still may want to plan on hitting the road or celebrating indoors.

Weather forecasters are expecting the county – particularly Everett – to be the wettest part of the state over the three-day holiday.

Dana Felton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said travelers should expect rain today and Sunday in most places on the west side of the state. But Everett and Snohomish County are expected to get the heaviest precipitation.

“Monday looks like the best day this weekend, but even then its nothing really outstanding,” Felton said.

Felton said the atmospheric patterns that spurred weak tornadoes near Tenino and outside Vancouver, Wash., Thursday and created weak funnel clouds near Snohomish and Anacortes on Friday are not expected to be present this weekend.

Funnel clouds – swirling air rather than huge thunder cells – usually don’t touch down in Washington state. If they do, they commonly don’t stay on the ground very long, and damage is usually minimal.

The funnel cloud that formed near Snohomish Friday left no reported damage, but created a lot of excitement for area residents.

Steve Filosa of Everett watched it form just west of Snohomish after 2 p.m. as he was getting ready to go see the disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

“Two large, dark clouds were moving fast … running into each other. Within seconds, a white funnel cloud came straight down,” Filosa said. “I don’t think it lasted for more than a minute.”

“It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he added.

Jon Dobyns of Everett also watched the funnel cloud form while walking home from lunch.

“The way the clouds were forming, it looked kind of ominous,” Dobyns said. “I don’t think it touched down, but it was a large funnel cloud trying to.”

Washington has recorded six tornadoes this year, triple the average year.

The weather service’s Felton said tornadoes in the state are rare, don’t last long and are usually not very strong. The longest one this year was on the ground for six minutes, he said.

Felton said two weak storm fronts are expected to move in during the weekend, bringing rain showers, light winds and temperatures in the 50s.

Jamie Holter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said during rainstorms drivers should turn their lights on, increase their stopping distance to at least three car lengths and try to avoid distractions such as cellphones.

Those headed for Eastern Washington will have the driest weather in the state, with the high temperature reaching about 60 degrees in that region.

Holter said she recommends taking U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass to Eastern Washington and the music festivals at the Gorge Amphitheater in Grant County. A 30-mile stretch of construction between Ellensburg and Vantage has been slowing traffic on I-90, she said.

Evan Caldwell: 425-339-3475; ecaldwell@heraldnet.com

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