Weather with Cliff Mass

University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator/personality Cliff Mass has joined KPLU’s roster of commentators.

"Weather with Cliff Mass", our five-minute feature hosted by KPLU's environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp, airs every Friday  at 9 a.m.  following "BirdNote", and repeats twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. It is also available as a podcast on kplu.org

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Gray skies and drizzle marked a return to normalcy in Northwest skies on Friday, with temperatures back in the 60s after an extraordinarily hot week that broke multiple records and caused a rapid meltdown of snow in the mountains.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the weekend will bring more of the same, with mild temps and potential for lots of late April showers.

Rainy Start To The Weekend

Tim Durkan Photography

Expect a fairly normal spring day on Friday, but keep your summer gear handy for the weekend. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says temperatures will surge upward on Saturday.

”We’re going to a profound warming trend,” Mass said, “And no precipitation.”

Blue Skies Start Saturday Afternoon

He says it’s due to a ridge of high pressure that will start building over us on Saturday.

“And the temperatures are going to push up into at least the mid-60s, maybe some clouds in the morning, but lots of sun, so definitely a warm-up,” Mass said.

Tim Durkan Photography

Western Washington’s unseasonably high temperatures will be subsiding, but KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says you may want to keep the shorts and sunglasses handy.

“I’d keep them around,” Mass said, though he added that many people will be needing them less over the weekend. He said Friday will still be very warm and sunny.

Another Hot Day Friday – Except On The Coast

“Maybe not quite as warm as yesterday, in some places,” he said, but the air above us is still “warmer than we generally see till the middle of summer.”

Recent Windstorm A Powerful One, But No Hurricane

Mar 25, 2016
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The windstorm that hit the region March 13 was a powerful one, to be sure. We were seeing wind gusts as fast as 70 miles per hour in some spots along the coast, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour inland. The National Weather Service was quoted recently comparing it with a hurricane, but KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says "not so fast."

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

A mostly cloudy scenario is in store this weekend, with rain only coming into the picture late Sunday and cooling mostly holding off till then too. So if you like grey skies and mild temps, it’s a great time to get outdoors.

“Today is going to be a perfect day for anything,” says Cliff Mass of Friday’s mix of sun and clouds.

“Temperatures are going to get up into the low 60s in many places away from the water — very nice day, plenty of sun, a few high clouds,” he said, summarizing it as “a spectacular spring day.”

Mixed Saturday

Tim Durkan Photography

Have you noticed an abundance of rainy days over the past several months, but also warmer than normal temps? If so, you’re a really good judge of what’s been happening in Northwest skies lately.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s been the wettest water year in Seattle’s history. And this weekend, the systems will deliver a bunch more of the same, so keep that lightweight rain gear handy.

Weather Forecasting: From Superstition to Supercomputers - A Benefit for Save KPLU

BUY TICKETS HERE

(Seattle-Tacoma, WA) KPLU's weather expert and University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass is one of the Save KPLU campaign's most fervent advocates.  Mass will present a program on the evolution of weather forecasting at UW Kane Hall (Room 130) on March 16 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. with proceeds benefiting Save KPLU.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Keep your rain gear handy and catch some sunshine while you can. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a weak front showing up on the weather radar will arrive in the greater Seattle area sometime after 4 p.m. Friday, putting an end to the sunny skies many of us have been experiencing for the past week.   

Paul White / AP Images

There's no doubt about it, it's been a wet few months. But can we call this winter record-breaking? If you ask KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, you'll get an answer: No.

"Let's be careful about these records. Some people have been fast and loose saying this is the wettest winter in Seattle history, and it's really not. It's the wettest December through February," Mass said.

Ted S. Warren / AP Images

If you ever want to see KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass get passionate, just ask him about the coastal radar system.

“Weather radar is one of the most powerful tools that meteorologists have to see what’s going on,” he says.

You can hear the excitement in his voice as he makes an analogy to the technology used in modern medicine to see inside patients’ bodies.

“You know if you’re a doctor and you want to diagnose someone’s innards, you need an MRI or a CT scan.”

Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

A ridge of high pressure is heading in our direction and that will mean warmer weather and sunny skies. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it'll feel "spring-like." But we will have to contend with some rain and snow for just a bit longer.

"And it'll be pretty heavy tonight. Some good, heavy showers. In the mountains, as the front moves through in the evening and on Saturday morning, we'll see snow developing," he says.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Heavy rain is back and many people in the Pacific Northwest are starting to get tired of it.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass confirms that ‘wicked’ is a fine word to describe it, especially on Friday.

“We have an occluded front coming through. And I can see on the radar some fairly heavy rain on the coast coming into the Puget Sound region, so it will be wickedly raining,” he says.

Tim Durkan Photography

The atmospheric river that has been aimed at the Pacific Northwest like a fire hose is starting to let up. That means people in the area can expect a relatively pleasant Sunday for outdoor pursuits, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. And the drier skies should help lift the risk of road closures due to avalanches on the mountain passes.

Heavy Rain From The Tropics Tapering Off

SDOT Photos / Flickr

With precipitation dominating the forecast in most of the region, what will happen to snow in our mountains?

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s going to be a wet weekend.

“There will be plenty of rain,” he said.

Friday will be cloudy, with temps getting up into the lower 40s.

“Nothing too exciting,” he says. “But then the fun stuff starts.”

A much stronger front will come in on Saturday morning, bringing moderate to heavy rain in western Washington and substantial snow in the mountains, especially above about 4,000 feet.

Tim Durkan Photography

What do mid-winter doldrums in western Washington, gunky skies east of us and the extremely wet weather to the south have in common?

All are connected to the very strong El Niño that still reigns over the weather systems that are dousing California and keeping skies over the Cascadia region mostly dry and “very boring” according to KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

Blame El Niño

AP Images

With recent memories of freezing temps, snowy passes, high winds, flooding and, maybe even a few popsicle toes, it might take a bit of mental stretching to recall the big weather story of 2015. But there’s no question in KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass’s mind that warmer than normal conditions tell it all.

“The key element last year was above-normal temperatures. The winter was warm; the spring was warm, and the summer was warm,” Mass says.

NASA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Perhaps you remember the long-term forecasts from a while back. Several months ago the rumors started. Then in October, the national weather forecasters at NOAA confirmed their prediction for a very strong El Niño in 2015-16.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Expect a brief respite on Friday and intermittent breaks this weekend from the extremely wet weather that has doused the Puget Sound region all week.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a front is moving through and the lowlands will see showers but not extreme rain. It’s a different story in the mountains, however. Mass says there could be as much as six inches of new snow on Friday, continuing a trend that’s brought huge amounts of the white stuff to the passes and ski areas over the past several days.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Keep that rain gear handy and brace yourselves for lots of windy skies over this weekend. The clear and stable air Friday morning is expected to be just a brief respite before the weather revs up again this weekend – though the major flooding appears to be over for now.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says another big wind storm is headed our way. It won’t be nearly as wet as we’ve experienced in the past week, but the normal stormy weather pattern for this time of year is certainly in place. Beware of mudslides on some area roads as the moisture recedes.

Morgen Bell via Creative Commons / Flickr

Rain and gray skies are in the weekend forecast for the Puget Sound region again – a stark contrast to the Thanksgiving holiday, which was characterized by an inversion that kept the clouds away, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

“We went from an unusually dry period with clear skies, high pressure and a ridge over us, to one in which a trough is offshore,” said Mass.  The trough is low pressure.

Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy the weather this Thanksgiving weekend. High pressure above us has set up in a stable pattern that will stick around until Monday, keeping rain away until sometime Tuesday. 

"No precipitation (guaranteed), sunny, with little clouds ... a tonic against Seasonal Affective Disorder," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Expect clear skies and cooler temps, with highs in the mid-40s and lows down into the 20s or even the teens in western Washington. There might be some fog in a few places and there is a possibility of some air quality issues, as smog builds up.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The holiday season might be just getting underway, but a major cold snap is already here. Ski areas are opening across the region and forecasts are calling for the possibly of lowland snow early next week. Specifically, lowland snow in some areas on Tuesday morning.

But whether that will actually come to pass is still a big question.

“I wouldn’t be the house on it,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, “But I would be prepared, either way.”  

sea turtle / Flickr via Compfight

Keep that rain gear handy and if you live near a river, watch out for more high water. An extraordinarily long current of moisture known as an “atmospheric river” has been aimed at the Northwest, delivering rain, wind and flooding. And there’s more to come.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not the typical "Pineapple Express" we often see at this time of year.

An Extraordinary Constellation

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight


Another wet weekend is in store as a more normal pattern of November weather has returned to the Northwest, with cooler temperatures and persistent storms coming through every few days, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. There is even the likelihood of a reasonably good ski season this year.

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight

Keep your parkas handy or maybe an umbrella if you’re trick-or-treating this weekend. The forecast is full of rain — very heavy rain in places, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’s going to be really wet,” he said. “It’s pretty scary if you’re going to go hiking or go up into the mountains,” so you might want to rethink such plans.  

Mass says a series of “very wet systems” is coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and there’s “a tremendous amount of moisture behind it.”

Three Waves Of Wet Stuff

Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy the, mild fall weather this weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, because there is going to be a big shift to wetter and cooler weather in the days ahead.

“You can expect the precipitation to turn on in a big way during the next week to two weeks,” Mass said, explaining that computer models show that the typical switch from sunny and warm autumn days, to damper and cooler weather is upon us.

He expects that transition sometime next week. So if you’re a hiker, Mass says this weekend is one you will want to enjoy.

Tim Durkan Photography

If outdoor plans are in store for you this weekend, you’ll want to keep the rain gear handy and maybe an extra layer as well.

Friday will be the last 70 degree day for a long time, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, as a rainy pattern returns to the Northwest.

He says it’s been amazingly warm for mid-October. Highs hit 70 on Thursday and they’re expected to do so again on Friday.

“That’s ten degrees above normal,” said Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Christopher Pluta via Pixabay

Some residents in the higher hills of Seattle and Issaquah experienced tropical weather overnight, with warm, moist air pushing temperatures up as high as 70 degrees by Friday morning.

Everyone else was in the 50s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Tim Durkan Photography

If Friday’s clouds and drizzle are getting you down, hang in there. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a warm, sunny weekend is in store as soon as the work week ends.

Tim Durkan Photography

Fall has officially arrived and we can feel it. Temperatures have dropped. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday’s rain will quickly move east, making way for sunny skies this weekend.

“Precipitation will lighten up certainly by the early afternoon here on the western side,” Mass said. “So, not a warm day, but at least it will be dry the second half,” he said, predicting temperatures only reaching the lower to mid-60s. “So definitely below normal and cooler than what we’ve had before.”

An Improving Trend This Weekend

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