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 new five-minute feature hosted by KPLU's environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp, airs every Friday beginning at 9 a.m. immediately following "BirdNote", and will repeat twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. It is also available as a podcast on kplu.org

The type of wind and rainstorm blowing into western Washington has done some amazing damage in the past. Weather expert Cliff Mass is not forecasting anything so huge this weekend, but we will get a "westerly wind surge," gusty enough to expect some power outages on Whidbey Island. 

Winds could gust to 50 or 60 miles per hour in some parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca -- as a front from the north accelerates down the strait and barrels into Whidbey and the Everett area.

Two examples that Mass recalls vividly:

Jake Ellison / KPLU

We're getting some beautiful sunrises and until we set our clocks back, we’re all up to see them!

Today and Saturday we’ll get some of those morning sprinkles, but the afternoons clear off with temperatures hitting around 50, and then starting on Saturday afternoon we get some “very interesting” weather for the Northwest, says KPLU’s weather expert Cliff Mass.

sea turtle / Flickr

A strong storm front is moving in and will make today and Sunday mostly wet with a break from the rain on Saturday, KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass says. And trick-or-treaters on Monday should have decent weather. 

After Friday's rain and windstorm subsides, you'll have a chance to ponder what Mass calls Washington's "most dangerous weather phenomenon."

The Puget Sound region will be in for increasing rain with temperatures hanging up around the mid-50s through the weekend but letting up Sunday afternoon until Tuesday when there'll be more sun, KPLU's weatherman Cliff Mass says.

... unless you live or play under the 'blue hole' over Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend – that area northeast of the Olympics.

Cliff Mass

A gray day today, but some perfect fall days are in store, according to KPLU and UW weather expert Cliff Mass.

"Tomorrow (Saturday), we are going to have actually quite a nice day. A weak ridge builds over the region. So we are going to have sun with temperatures getting up perhaps into the lower 60's and really a decent sunny day."

Mass sees a mix of sun, clouds and possibly a  shower on Sunday. The sun doesn't bring much warmth this time of year, unless it gets a little help.

"That help is coming up during the next few days," he says.

Aarthi Ramamurthy / Flickr

Forecasters aren’t perfect, but we can be pretty sure of the rain falling this morning.

The cooler temps and heavier rain are a few weeks early, forecaster Cliff Mass told KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld, but the front dropping this rain will move through by mid-day today leaving Saturday mostly dry with rain returning that evening through Sunday morning.

But this could all be off by a few hours either way, because the official forecasters only publish every six hours. And those forecasts are used by nearly all the different weather Websites and news organizations.

Trevin Chow / Flickr

Weak weather fronts mean the sun should stick around through the weekend, with temperatures in the lower 70s and mid-60s and some occasional light showers. Then, a stronger front moves in late Sunday that will seal our fate for next week – at least when it comes to no sun.  

“The pattern of the atmosphere is shifting,” Cliff Mass told KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld, “so we are going from a ridge-like pattern to a trough-like pattern, which means that for much of next week we are going to be stuck in a cloudy, wet situation with highs getting up to only around 60.”

It’s the first day of fall, but you can’t trust the calendar to tell us what kind of weather we’ll be having. … So, we turn to Cliff Mass and KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld to give it to us straight.

First, it’s the water vapor in the air covering us like a blanket that will keep us warm and humid today and tomorrow. But it all changes again on Monday. And with a new radar station coming online on the coast, Mass says we’ll be able to see our future weather much more clearly.

Lattiboy / KPLU

That's it – nine days of summer. The nine days of over 80 degree temperatures in September look like the best we'll get this year.

“Looking at the maps, the large scale maps over the hemisphere, things have really changed. We’ve gone from a summer-type pattern to a much more winter-like pattern," Cliff Mass told KPLU's Keith Seinfeld in this morning's weather report. "The Jet stream is really strengthening and the storm systems are moving south. “

We’ve got one more weekend of great hot weather before we begin to see temperatures more normal for September, says Cliff Mass, KPLU’s weather commentator and University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences.

Look for temperatures to be in the lower 80s today with another five to seven degrees higher on Saturday. Sunday will peak at nearly 90. If these temperatures hold out through Monday, we could set a record for number of days in September that have reached or exceeded 80. The record is eight days.

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.

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and KPLU’s new weather commentator, says it was Carl Sagan who first inspired him to get out into the public to popularize the science behind weather forecasting.

“I was an undergraduate at Cornell and in those days he was really into popularizing science. He was on the Tonight Show, and he was writing very popular books and a lot of that rubbed off,” Mass told KPLU.

Check out the video above for our complete interview with Cliff Mass.

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