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With fall finally here, let’s take a look at the long-range forecast

SEATTLE, Wash. — It’s here.

Fall started at 1:02 p.m. Friday, bringing Seattle’s driest summer on record to a close.  Familiar gray skies and chilly temperatures helped usher it in.

Q13 News Chief Meteorologist Walter Kelley says the extended forecast for fall hasn’t changed. He expects warmer-than-normal temperatures with the normal amount of rainfall this October through December.

A far cry from the hard rains and pounding storms of last year.

“We’re still expecting a way better pattern than last year,” Kelley says.

Kelley says the winter will have slightly above normal rainfall for January through March. Temperatures should hover around average.

“Not nearly as harsh as last winter,” Kelley says.

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, also says this winter will be cold, and a little wetter.

“It could be a good year to buy your ski pass,” Mass says.

Of course, it’s hard to accurately predict the weather so far out, Mass says. But it does look like we are due for another heavy snow year in the mountains.

“All we can say is the dice are weighted to colder, wetter and snowier,” he says. “Particularly after January.”

But like Kelley, Mass agrees this winter won’t be nearly as dark and wet as the last.

“At this point, I don’t think it’s likely to have the extremes we had last winter,” Mass says. “Because they were just so out of the ordinary.”

Here’s hoping, right?