Weather with Cliff Mass

Evan Hoover / KPLU

In the Seattle region, where we have few air conditioners, a string of 90-plus days can raise alarms:

But with the rest of the country melting under temperatures of 100 degrees or more for days in a row and drought striking the Midwest, we wonder if perhaps we in the Northwest are heat wimps.

The Associated Press

Today’s going to be a great summer day, especially as some low clouds burn off later – but that’s not the best part of the forecast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Today is the worst day of the weekend, believe it or not. And temperatures are going to get up into the mid- to upper-70s even near 80 in a couple places. So, it’s just an absolute wonderful day. But it’s going to get even better,” he says.

The skies will stay clear and temperatures will warm as we get into the weekend, with many places away from the water seeing 80-plus degrees. 

Amber Vaesca / KPLU

Sometimes, like this weekend ... a miracle happens, reports our weather expert and University of Washington professor Cliff Mass. 

That miracle may bring the hottest day of the year this weekend.

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Don't let yesterday's warmer temps fake you out, says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass. Fact is, we're stuck in a pattern of cloudy mornings and cool days deep into next week with possibly some rain arriving on Thursday.

The cause? "We have this persistent troughing along the West Coast, and associated with that is ridging over the middle of the country, " Mass said. "So, they’re getting this enhanced drought, and we’re getting the enhanced low clouds. We’re colder than normal, they're warmer than normal."

ryanobjc / Flickr

"This is the summer of thunderstorms," says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and meteorologist at the University of Washington.

An unusual pattern of low pressure keeps recurring over the western U.S., bringing the rain and lightning. Temperatures are about ten degrees below normal for this part of July--which is typically the sunniest part of the year in the Puget Sound area.

East of the mountains, there have been two flash floods, as of this morning.

Greg Johnson /

If you were in the mountains or northern Puget Sound last night, you may have seen some spectacular lightning bolts and thunderstorms. Those are rare in the northwest, compared with the midwest. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the right conditions are here now, and will be with us through Saturday.

Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington, explains why, in this week's interview.

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The forecast is for plenty of sun for today and days to come.

As KPLU forecaster and University of Washington professor Cliff Mass put it in his blog: It happens almost every year, and we sometimes lose faith that it will occur.

"Often, as in this year, it happens right after July 4th, and almost certainly by mid-July, resulting in the oft-noted statement by the meteorological cognoscenti that summer starts on July 12th in western Washington."

And there's not much we can do about it, says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the UW.

Mass says look at the radar and make some plans.

There's a reason ... It's been a cold June.

Minnae / Flickr

You can watch out not only for rain showers, but perhaps even some thunder showers on Friday, says Cliff Mass, the KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UW.

If you're planning ahead, he says in this week's podcast, Friday afternoon will get the worst of it, with Saturday slightly less, and Sunday tapering off more and warming up a few degrees.

And, if you're wondering, When will the water at our beaches be warm enough to get in?... Mass has some bad news. The early part of summer is when winds conspire to create "upwelling" along much of the Pacific coast, and that makes the water get colder.

rishibando / Flickr

Just one day of glory is all we get, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. The clouds roll in tonight, at least around most of western Washington, followed by periods of rain tomorrow.

The sun will still be shining over Portland on Saturday, and east of the Cascades, says Mass, a UW professor of Atmospheric Sciences.

The changes are all typical of June, he says, and by the middle of next week, we'll likely flip back to a few days of sunshine.

This week's interview also covers how to "read" the clouds and tell if rain is on the way.


Cliff Mass

The forecast is calling for a few rain showers to move through the Puget Sound region, no surprise there. But with the strong sun heating the ground and with the clouds aloft, we could also get a weak thunderstorm or two, said KPLU’s weather expert Cliff Mass.

Then, it’s better weather through the weekend. By Sunday, we’ll see the end of showers, though there will still be some clouds aloft and temperatures in the mid-60s. Monday is the best of the set with temperatures reaching into the 70s.

Often, Mass advises sun-seekers to head east across the mountains, but in this week's conversation he offered another option. He said the coast would be a great place for some sun and seeing the transit of Venus.

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When Cliff Mass talks about "June Gloom," it's about the clouds more than rain. June doesn't get all that much measurable precipitation, but the clouds lock in place, and sunshine can be rare.

The Associated Press

The forecast for today and tomorrow calls for sun and low to mid-70s temperatures, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. But, the sun and clear skies will give way on Sunday and Monday to clouds and temperatures at least 10 degrees lower.

Basically, we’re still transitioning into the “June gloom.”

Digital Sextant / flickr

You can blame a ridge of pressure over the Pacific for pushing a layer of cool, cloudy marine air over western Washington, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Sam Reed / Flickr

The rumors of imminent warmth are confirmed, by KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

"The whole weekend is going to be extraordinary," says Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.

Today, KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass and science reporter Keith Seinfeld touch on the forecast – cloudy through most of Saturday, then getting better through Monday – and then take up a common thread throughout NW weather history: grousing.

Here's a weather report from 1855 published in the Puget Sound Courier:

"Well, March went out, April came in, and with it, cold, wet, disagreeable weather, and a universal spirit of discontent, and a disposition to 'growl'"

"Throughout the entire month, and even up to this, the last day of May, it has been precisely the same, and some amongst us profess to be so thoroughly disgusted with the weather .... that they threaten to leave the Territory altogether."

joiseyshowaa / flickr

Yet another weekend that beats the work-week, when it comes to sunshine--that's the forecast from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington.

But, it won't exactly be warm and sunny.

Chris Tarnawski / Flickr

April showers will dry out today, and by Saturday, most of western Washington should see sunshine. But, we're not so sure about Sunday.

If you've been enjoying sunshine and how the light plays off the blossoms or the water -- there's more in store this weekend. But, it's not "normal," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

"It's been drier than normal this month. From April first until now, we are over an inch below normal, in terms of rainfall. We have been warmer than normal this past week," he says.

That continues through Sunday, with temperatures reaching the lower to mid-60s.

Carlye Calvin / UCAR

A few scattered showers on Friday--and some puffy cumulus clouds--will dry out for Saturday.

"It should be a glorious day. And interestingly enough it should be warmer in western Washington than eastern Washington, which is not the normal situation this time of year," says KPLU weather expert and UW professor Cliff Mass.

The sunshine should stick around Sunday, but there's a bit of a debate among meteorologists over what happens Sunday evening and next week.

This March was Portland's wettest month ever, with a record-breaking 7.73 inches of rain. And, records fell throughout most of Washington last month, as well, reports KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.


What happens when a river runs into a mountain?

An atmospheric river, carrying dense clouds of moisture from the tropical Pacific, has been colliding with our mountains, and all that moisture has been dropping like a waterfall.

indigo / Flickr

It's true, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington. It will feel like spring from here on out.

We had clear skies starting this morning, and temperatures will approach 60 on Saturday, says Mass. Expect a few clouds on Sunday, but still a pleasant day.

Steve Wall / Flickr

Sure spring is coming next week, but KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass says we'll be seeing plenty of rain and even some snow this weekend and it doesn't get any better for days to come.

Mass explains on his blog: "Last winter we were securely in La Nina conditions and the region experienced a miserable, cold, wet spring that lasted into mid summer.   Horror to all soccer and Little League parents.

"This winter we have also been in a La Nina and since early February we have been colder and wetter than normal, with snowpack surging in our mountains. Yes, it appears we are dealing with  the revenge of La Nina."

Mike Kelley / Flickr

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.

On his blog, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass writes:

Sunday should be great....sunny, much warmer air...many will see the mid-50s.   A big ridge over us....   Plan to get outdoors!


In general, warmer temperatures are in store, beginning this evening, says Mass in his weekly weather conversation with KPLU. You can expect a little of everything on Saturday, before it clears out on Sunday.

Next week, Mass says it will be cooler and wet again, fitting with the La Nina pattern that's settled in place.

Shannon Kringen / Flickr

That's the forecast as of Friday morning, from KPLU and UW weather expert Cliff Mass.

"I don't know if you'll wake up to it, but Sunday morning into Sunday, during the day there will be some snow showers," says Mass.

Michael Cornelius / flickr

It's too wimpy to call it a storm, but wind and rain will dominate through tonight and tomorrow, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

The winds will be hard to miss along the Washington coast, getting up to 60 mph. But, as Mass explains, the coastal mountains tend to cut down those winds by the time they reach Puget Sound, leaving us with merely blustery conditions.

By Sunday, it should dry out, and skiers will find a lot of fresh snow waiting for them in the mountains. Next week appears to offer more mild temperatures with occasional rain showers.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr

You can call it light rain or "the good rain" (after local author Tim Egan), but either way, it’s the signature of the great Northwest. And it's here through much of the weekend.

That's the forecast from KPLU expert and UW professor Cliff Mass.


Today’s forecast calls for sunshine, says KPLU’s weather scientist Cliff Mass. And, as scientists are bound to do, he also notes some interesting details not as obvious as the sun in the sky.

“We may have a lot of sunshine but there are a lot of subtleties going on in the next few days that are worth talking about,” Mass said.