Weather with Cliff Mass

First, the good news: enjoy this weekend, which is shaping up to be wonderfully mild and full of sunshine with highs in the 60s across Western Washington.

After that, be ready for plenty of twists and turns. April is the month of frequent weather changes, says Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

The two hallmarks of April:

Bellamy Pailthorp

Snow on the third day of spring has some people wondering: what gives?

Well, actually, spring here began a long time ago, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“The problem we have here in the Northwest is spring lasts too long,” says Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Mrjoro / Flickr

Expect more of what we've been seeing all week — "clouds, showers, breaks," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of  Washington.

"Wear Gore-Tex or some raincoat," says Mass, adding, "There will be plenty of breaks."

The temperatures will remain mild until Saturday evening when colder air will head into the region. The new front will bring some welcome snow to Cascade ski areas, says Mass.

"The freezing level will drop from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, to 1,000 – 1,500 feet," he says. "They can easily get 2 to 6 inches."

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29034017@N04/4517025858/">prenetic</a> / Flickr

Fog burns off, leaving sunshine in its wake, this weekend. That's the forecast for Friday and Saturday, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington and KPLU's weather expert.

Fires, on the other hand, leave us with smoke, and in this week's weather conversation, Mass explains how that can affect the flavor of wine. (Click the "listen" button above, and check-out Mass' blog.)

Winter is over, if you consider the threat of snow in the cities of Puget Sound a marker of winter, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

WSDOT

It's nothing like the major storms across the midwest and eastern U.S., but western Washington is tasting a little bit of winter, finally.

"After one of the most boring winters that I can ever remember, we are going to be getting heavy rain, good snow. We'll be getting some winds gusting up to 30 to 50 miles per hour, and big waves along the coast," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Morning clouds should give way to afternoon sunshine Friday in many Puget Sound neighborhoods. But some unpleasant weather is headed our way for Saturday, especially in the Seattle-to-Everett area.

That's the immediate forecast from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

  [Feb. 11th Update -- Audio problem fixed]

While the Northeast struggles with a massive snowstorm, the same forces are keeping it mild on the West Coast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

What are those forces? High pressure and low pressure. Okay, it's more complicated than that, but there is a high pressure "ridge" over the west, which forces a "trough" toward the east.

Johncuthbert43 / Flickr

Several days of drizzle are giving way to a pleasant--and unseasonably warm--weekend.

The best day for outdoor plans should be Saturday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

For a weather forecaster, this weekend is looking "pretty boring," says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington and KPLU's weather expert.

Some showers will blow through, but nothing dramatic. The mountains should get a little snow, but not enough to snarl traffic on the passes. Sunday should be a bit drier.

And what about snow in the city this winter?

Chris Blakeley / Compfight

In some places, such as eastern Washington farms, they actually use giant fans to disrupt the inversion that causes stagnant air (which is what we've been experiencing for a week, and can leave frost on fruit trees).

But, KPLU weather expert and UW professor Cliff Mass says those fans won't work in western Washington, because the natural forces creating the inversion are too strong. Instead, he suggests taking a hike.

Alex Vernon / Seattle

If you were up early this morning, you might have found ice on your patio or steps, and maybe on the streets. The current cold weather pattern, caused by a ridge off the Pacific coast, means the black ice hazard is high, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

1yen photo / Flickr

If you feel like last month was dark and dreary, you're not imagining things. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says December 2012 was one of the darkest on record.

"We've had a terrible period. It was one of the darkest Decembers we've had. Certainly we were in the top five of the last 50 years."

He says in records kept for the last 13 years, we tied with December 2007 for the worst wet, damp and dreary skies.

It's looking like the total annual rainfall, as measured at Seatac Airport, could rank in the top-5 since record-keeping began, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

A typical year brings about 38 inches, and we're in the range of 50 inches for 2012. That's despite one of the longest dry stretches ever, in August and September. Most of the rainfall came during a dreary late spring, and during the past six weeks.

For the complete discussion, click the "listen" button above.

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WSDOT

Snow in the Cascade mountains is the deepest in America these days, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, and the weather pattern is likely to stay the same well into next week.

And, as for the dusting of snow, ice and sleet around portions of the Puget Sound lowlands, that should all melt off by this afternoon, says Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

The next storm front is headed our way for Saturday morning, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And Sunday afternoon could get a warmer, wetter blast.

But, what's really intriguing him is the Monday forecast.

"The computer models don't agree," says Mass. Some bring the storm system's center north of Puget Sound, other models send the storm south.

"This is fairly strong ... so it could bring winds, even winds here to Seattle," on Monday, he says.

WSDOT

The weather pattern has shifted, and that means less rain, more chills, says Atmospheric Scientist Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington.

The pattern is giddy news for mountain ski areas, all of which should be open with light, fluffy snow this weekend, he says.

Don't worry, though, the snow should stay away from the Puget Sound lowlands, although the higher foothills may get a dusting tonight or Saturday morning.

At least three or four more days of rainstorms are headed to the northwest. They'll cycle through approximately every 18 hours, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Those late November storms are a tradition in the northwest. But after some Friday rain, the trend is drying out, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington.

In this week's weather talk, Mass explains why late November gets more inches of rain than any other period of the year. Hint: It has to do with the jet-stream, heading at us from Asia. After November, that "atmospheric hose" is pointed farther south in Oregon and northernmost California.

For the complete explanation, click the "listen" button above.

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33392350@N00/8088129137/">sea turtle</a> / Flickr

We're entering the wettest two-week period of the year, says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And this year should not disappoint.

The rain we've been hearing about this weekend will really just be light showers, says Mass, unless you're on the coast or in northwest Washington, where you'll get blasted with high winds.

Jon Madison / Flickr

That's right, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says those who live in "these low spots, places where the wind doesn't get into, these hollows" could see temperatures in the 20s early Saturday morning.

The heavy rain we saw earlier this week was part of an "atmospheric river" carrying moisture across the Pacific, but it's gone now, and off-and-on showers will be the norm for the next few days, says Cliff Mass, KPLU's weather expert and a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Northwest dampness comes as the rest of the country is drying out, and Mass says that's good news for President Obama. He cites research that shows Republicans do better when it's rainy on Election Day, and Democrats do better when it's dry.

C4Chaos / Flickr

Lots of rain in the forecast, but a surprising break is coming on Sunday - at least if you're north of the Tacoma area.

Neil Banas / Flickr

The pattern has shifted, and rain is here to stay, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

By this evening, we'll be in an "occasional showers" mode, which means you might find dry spells this weekend to rake leaves and be outside.

Want to avoid getting caught in a shower? Mass suggests using the local weather radar, to check the latest status.

Expect light, misty rain for much of today, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And a much stronger front is approaching on Saturday night -- bringing heavy showers on Sunday.

rutlo / Flickr

Don't credit global warming. And don't call it karma. Sometimes, weather patterns just lock in place, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Today, the pattern is perfection. Sunny, clear skies, with temperatures in the upper 60s, occasionally breaking 70, says Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And seven days in a row of that, stretching through next Thursday. It could change at the end of next week, but maybe not, he says.

b k / Flickr

Yes, this morning's brief showers showed that in fact our fabulous summer is at an end (but there will be more sunny days to come), says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass added that forecasters were blindsided by this morning's rain across the region, but they are back on track with predictions of a front moving in this afternoon. That front too will bring some rain, but the clouds will burn off probably by Saturday evening and Sunday will be sunny.

Greg Johnson / Skunk Bay Weather Blog

Greg Johnson, a Puget Sound weather aficionado, was recently called out by KPLU’s own weather expert Cliff Mass for a unique video that shows the development of superior mirages during the day. And, with our string of sunny days, there has been plenty of opportunity to see the mirages this summer.

He seems like your ordinary scientist, but KPLU weather expert and University of Washington professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass has been moonlighting. He can be found in courtrooms, as a favorite expert when the weather may determine guilt or innocence.

For the complete story, click the "listen" button above.

Nevermind the predictable weather for this weekend (cloudy mornings, sunshine breaking through, temps in the 70's) -- KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass wants to talk about a strange phenomenon along the Washington coast.

The water temperatures on any of our coastal beaches -- along the Olympic coast, at Ocean Shores, Westport or Long Beach -- is typically in the 40s or low 50s, says Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington.

That's cold.

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