Cliff Mass: It's A Holiday Crapshoot, But Consider Moving Your BBQ To Saturday

May 23, 2014

Well, it's complicated.

The forecast for our long holiday weekend starts wet, then dries out, then gets downright motley as we move into prime barbecue territory.

"Right now a front is coming through," said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. "So it's raining over most of western Washington. And the rain's going to continue probably through lunchtime."

Showers will likely taper off later in the day, setting up a Saturday that will start moist but quickly develop into a springlike forecast of partly sunny skies and temperatures close to 70 degrees.

"All in all, Staurday should be the best day to get out there," said Mass.

A Holiday Crapshoot

If you're planning to get outdoors Sunday or Monday, you may well stay dry. Or you might not.

"Timing is everything on Sunday, and where you're located," said Mass.

People on the coast can expect rain starting in the morning, with inland locations staying dry through early afternoon. After that, it's the classic mix of showers and sunbreaks, a pattern that will hold right on through Monday when an upper-level trough develops.

Mass says the best thing to do is keep an eye on the radar.

"That's what the professionals do. We have our radar apps, and we're watching those showers," said Mass.

Beware The Long-Term Forecast

We heard this week that the National Weather Service is forecasting a warmer-than-average summer for the Northwest. Mass says a grain of salt would be well advised.

"At this point I wouldn't put a lot of confidence in the summer forecast," he said. "Their skill is, let us say, less than perfect."

Long-term forecasts use large-scale correlations with things like atmospheric patterns and sea surface temperatures, as well as computer models, to make predictions about average weather conditions months in advance.

Mass says that works pretty well for forecasting winters, but the accuracy for summers is especially shaky.

Rainy Days, Dream Away

The Jimi Hendrix tune we used to introduce our broadcast segment felt so right for the damp Friday morning out there, we thought we'd include it here, too.

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The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, a renowned Seattle weather prognosticator, and a popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to a podcast of “Weather with Cliff Mass” shows.