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

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

An excessive heat warning has been in effect since Thursday this of week and temperatures are expected to hit the 90s  in places around the Puget Sound region through Saturday.

It will be sunny and hot all weekend long. And the heat wave comes as no real surprise; This is typical weather around here for August, when we expect our hottest temperatures of the year.

But why now?  Shouldn’t it be in June, when the sun is strongest?

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It’s hard not to gloat about Northwest weather in a week like this one. And KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the glory of blue skies and warm but comfortable temperatures is set to continue for most of the coming weekend.

“We’re stuck in this pattern of near perfection of weather,” Mass joked. “We’re in the 70s and low 80s and dry conditions while the rest of the country’s in heat and humidity and thunderstorms. So we can’t complain,” he said.

Warmest On Friday

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The first weekend in August is statistically one of the driest and warmest weekends in the Pacific Northwest. It also marks the height of outdoor summer fun in Seattle as Seafair’s hydroplane races hit the water and the Blue Angels show off their daredevil moves in the skies above.  

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says this year’s Seafair Weekend forecast is for cooler than normal weather and even some rain.

“But the rain’s going to hold off till the end of Sunday, so I think most activities will be fine,” Mass said.

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Have you ever noticed that oftentimes on summer afternoons, big clouds seem to form right over the Cascades or the Olympics, almost like the mountains have their own weather systems? They do.

“It’s true,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Many summer afternoons, we see puffy cumulus clouds starting to form over the upper slopes of the Cascades. And they increase in width and height during the afternoon and quite frequently you have a few showers there – even some lightning,” he said.  “And so that’s real, we see it over the Cascades, we see it over the Olympics.”

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“Liquid sunshine” made an ample appearance as the Northwest weekend got off to a wet and cloudy start. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass promises warmer temps and clearer skies as the weekend progresses. In fact, he says we’re headed into what is usually one of the nicest times of year and he expects it won’t disappoint.

“We’re about to go into an extended dry spell,” Mass said.

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Mid-July is well into what most people in the Pacific Northwest consider the summer season, which can be delightfully sunny and warm. Last year, it was characterized by record heat.

Not this year. KPLU Weather expert Cliff Mass says it will be pretty gray for most of this weekend. And though it feels cool compared to last year, it’s actually relatively average in terms of temperatures.  

Joey Cohn / KPLU

Expect the cool, cloudy skies and rain to continue this weekend. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the unseasonable weather is so extreme this year, he’s coined a new phrase for it: “Januly.”

He says though it’s not quite as cold as January, the patterns he’s seeing in the atmosphere resemble ones more typically seen in winter.

This Independence Day, don’t expect the scorching heat we’ve seen in recent summers around here. But it will be pleasant this year, with fine conditions for viewing fireworks, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

“You know this is going to be a classic July 4th weekend,” Mass said, “where there’s a lot of clouds and a few sprinkles.”

Tim Durkan

It’s been cool, damp and showery in the Northwest lately, with a classic pattern of June gloom overshadowing the official start of summer earlier this week. But that’s about to change. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the heaviest rains are over for a while.

He says the recent clouds and precipitation were caused by an upper-level disturbance moving through the region. Mass says that will pass through the area by Saturday morning.

Tim Durkan

Prepare to get wet on Saturday. But don’t lose hope. The sun will be back on Sunday, just in time for Father’s Day festivities as Northwest skies serve up a spring mix of rain and shine this weekend.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday’s conditions should set the tone. You’ll want to keep sunglasses as well as a rain slicker handy.

"It’s sunny from Seattle northward," Mass said. But he says conditions will start to change come Friday afternoon.

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Late spring in the Northwest is known for cool and showery weather, what’s often referred to locally as “June gloom.” After a record breaking heat wave last week, it looks like the normal pattern has returned to Western Washington skies – and that it will stick around for quite a while.

“June is traditionally a time of clouds and showers,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, adding “this weekend won’t disappoint.”

Michael Hanscom / Flickr via Compfight

The official start of summer has not yet arrived, but folks in the Pacific Northwest will feel like it has this weekend.  KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the mercury will rise into the 90s in many parts of Washington, bringing unseasonably hot weather to the region.

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Light snow fell at Steven’s Pass Thursday night, serving as a reminder that spring’s not quite over yet, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

But he says that’s about as surprising as it will likely get this weekend. He’s expecting the gloomy Northwest weather that’s been persisting this week to continue through the weekend.

“Today and tomorrow and I’m afraid Sunday are going to be pretty cloudy west of the Cascade Crest,” Mass said. That’s because of some very strong onshore flow that’s currently driving the weather.

A Persistent Trough

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If you were tired of all the unseasonably warm and sunny weather Washingtonians saw up till last week, it looks like your prayers have been answered, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“For those people who were complaining about the heat and the warmth and the sun and the dryness, well, your prayers have been met,” Mass joked.  He says we are now in a relatively wet, cool pattern that he expects to stick around well into next week.

A Major Trough

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Enjoy Friday’s summer-like weather while you can. With a predicted high of 80 degrees or more, it will be the last day of unseasonably warm weather for at least a week and likely much longer, says KPLU meteorologist Cliff Mass.

He says the recent string of high temps is ending with a bang.

“It’s amazing; The temperatures will get up to 80, maybe even lower 80s in a few locations, and completely dry,” said Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Sea Turtle / Flickr via Compfight

Keep the sunglasses and shorts handy.  More bright blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the mid to high 70s are in store this weekend and beyond, with the exception of on Mother’s Day.

“Lots of sun, just a few clouds, but nothing much — perfect,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

After A 'Normal' Week, Things Will Heat Up Again

Apr 29, 2016

"The atmosphere has been very kind to us," KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass said. "The weekend is going to get progressively sunnier and warmer as we go on."

Friday will be cloudy with some modest rain, but as we get later in the day the front will move out and the rain will come to an end. We'll see 60s and 70s over the weekend for our highs and Mass says by Monday we could see temperatures into the 80s. But it won't be as warm as our record-breaking heat from earlier this month. Mass says it's been a "normal" week. 

Flickr

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.

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.

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