Get ready for real heat through the weekend, says KPLU's Cliff Mass

Sep 2, 2011

Expect these morning clouds to clear out and to have a sweltering long weekend (for the Northwest this summer anyway) – and through the next week as well.

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and KPLU’s new weather commentator, says "It's going to be great."

Oh and with all the talk of hurricanes on the East Coast, what about West Coast hurricanes? We get 'em.

This weekend, a major ridge is developing over the western U.S. Today's temperatures will reach just into the 70s. Then, Saturday possibly will bring temps into the 80s south of Seattle and again in the 80s on Sunday. Monday will cool just a bit, says Cliff, but then the computer models show it will climb back into the mid-80s through next week into the following weekend.

Here's a video of Cliff explaining how he arrives at his forecasts:

West Coast hurricanes

"We get storms that are equivalent to hurricanes, but we just don't call them that," Mass says.

In fact, here in the Northwest we have had storms equivalent to category 2 and 3 hurricanes, he says. Some storms have had winds reaching over 150 mph.

As Mass expalains on his blog, the combo of wind and rain is a bit different in hurricanes:

But hurricanes do bring heavy rains and flooding, which is generally limited for our big windstorms. The reason – hurricanes are tropical systems depending on warm water and the release of heat by condensation of water vapor. Our storms derive their energies mainly from another source: horizontal variations in temperature. And the coastal areas of the east coast are more vulnerable to storm surges and coastal flooding – the biggest threats of hurricanes.

Northwest winds typically bring only modest rain. But in 2007, southwest Washington was soaked by 10 to 15 inches of rain in the midst of a monster windstorm, causing flooding and closing I-5, while the coast was "savaged" by winds  of 125 mph.

"We get the big time weather but it's not of tropical origin," he said, so the label hurricane isn't applied.

For the complete forecast, listen to Health and Science reporter Keith Seinfeld's interview with Mass in the attached audio.

On the Web:

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.