Forecast: Showers ahead (but revel in the spectacular clouds)

Mar 9, 2012

Weekend weather will be cloudy with showers off and on ... a pretty classic Northwest late winter forecast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass of the University of Washington. Rain should arrive by dinner-time.

Watch for a bigger storm on Monday, particularly on the coast, where winds could hit 50 mph.

The clouds we've seen so far this week have been pretty interesting. Cloud watchers got a great show yesterday of "lenticular" clouds.

Mass says they look like stacks of plates -- and may have helped set off the UFO craze.

They're often seen over and downstream of mountains.

Here's a dictionary definition:

len·tic·u·lar/lenˈtikyələr/

  1.     Shaped like a lentil.
  2.     Of or relating to the lens of the eye.

"Why do we get such features?  They occur when air, often near saturation, approaches a mountain barrier. Pushed up by the mountains, the air goes into an oscillation, with the waves propagating both downstream and upward," Mass wrote on his blog.

The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and repeats twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU’s Health and Science reporter Keith Seinfeld. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator. You can also subscribe to a podcast of this and previous "Weather with Cliff Mass" shows.