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

Jennifer Strachan

Most of the snow fell overnight while western Washington slept, and "the worst is over," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. The metropolitan area of Seattle saw ¾-inch to 3 inches of snow while areas north of the city saw more.

“But for most people, they’ve seen the bulk of what they’re going to get," said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

It’s not always easy to predict lowland snow in the Pacific Northwest, but the latest weather models confirm snow is coming on Friday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Cliff Mass

Snow in the lowlands may snarl Friday's morning commute, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Models are still suggesting that there will be extensive lowland snow on Friday morning, between roughly 1 to 2 a.m. and 10 a.m.,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, on his weather blog.

Our drier-than-usual fall is coming to a mild end as we return to the "old boring stuff," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

And that means a relatively dry weekend that’s much warmer than the last.

Lisa Nakamura

Shivering in the cold snap? The worst has yet to come, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

‘Colder Air than We’ve Had’

Temperatures will drop even more this weekend, says Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

“The coldest temperature of this event will occur Saturday and Sunday, and I expect Sunday morning to be ground zero for cold,” he said. "As the low goes by, cold air is going to be moving out—even colder air than we’ve had before.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Western Washington winters are relatively mild. We rarely see snow in the lowlands. But when it does snow, things freeze over in a hurry. 

Why does that happen? It has to do with our mild temperatures, says KPLU Weather expert Cliff Mass.

Jonathan Cooper

Uncertainty shrouds forecast models for the Thanksgiving weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, but two things are for certain: there will be snow—possibly in the lowlands, and it will get much colder. 

But first, the good news: neither of those things will have started as people head out of town on Wednesday, says Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and pens a popular blog

Rob McNair-Huff

It may be chilly out there, but it’s also unusually dry for this time of year, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’s really startling,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. “We’re in a most amazing pattern. I mean, this could be the wettest, stormiest time of the year, and it’s going to be basically dry over the next few days. In fact, I think probably the next week, we’re not going to see any precipitation.”

We may see a few clouds Tuesday and Wednesday, but then we’ll have wonderful weather for Thanksgiving, says Mass.

Jonathan Cooper

Batten down the hatches and get ready for a cold and gusty weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass says a major system in the Gulf of Alaska is headed our way, and will hit the lowlands with strong winds and the mountains with snow.

Tim Durkan

The November storms appear to be on hold with the weather expected to steadily improve over the weekend.

The dynamics that produced the double hitter of storms last week have subsided and are giving way to calmer skies and even some possible sunshine on Monday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

Tim Durkan

"Today is the calm before the storm," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

The first big storm of the season will hit the Northwest on Saturday, and it's expected to produce winds strong enough to cause power outages and trigger snowfall in the mountains at elevations low enough to cover the passes.

Tim Durkan

Why did we have such a long stretch of fog? Blame the inversion, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Foggy days in the fall aren’t uncommon in the Northwest, but the recent long stretch—the so-called “Fogtober” and “Fogmageddon” that Mass said will finally leave us Sunday—is quite rare.

Tim Durkan

Fogmageddon will end on Sunday, “pretty much guaranteed,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

Keith Seinfeld

The very dense fog hanging around the region this morning bodes well for a long sunny day ahead, and the week will continue with that pattern, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“As I mentioned before, that’s a tremendously good sign,” said Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. He says the densest fog usually means the sunniest afternoons.

“The clouds, the cold air, that low foggy layer is actually very shallow today and I expect it to burn out much quicker than it has in the past,” he said, predicting that it should be completely sunny outside by 11 this morning, with temperatures going up to around 60.

Tim Durkan

Late September and early October are the foggiest time of the year in the Northwest, according to Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Why is that? Mass says fall in the Northwest brings all the right ingredients.

zenobia_joy / Flickr via compfight

 

The clouds and light rain that have been darkening skies in southern King County should give way to dry weather and partly cloudy skies later today. And that’s just the first glimmer of nice fall weather in a week that promises to bring lots of mid-October sunshine.

That’s according to KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

“By this afternoon it’ll be partly cloudy,” Mass said, and “completely dry in all of western Washington.”

dorena-wm photo / Flickr via compfight

The first frost of the season hit the northwest Friday morning on both sides of the mountains, but skies will be sunny for much of the weekend.

Enjoy it while it lasts, since it will turn rainy again on Monday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Jonathan Cooper

Cliff Mass says his jaw dropped when he looked at the satellite image of an approaching system.

That wet front due to arrive on Saturday is “so extensive, so wide, and so intense” for a September storm, says Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Michael @ NW Lens / Flickr via compfight

Right on cue, typical fall rains will usher in the official start of autumn with the equinox on Sunday.

But first we get to enjoy some milder weather for the final days of summer, predicts KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We’re gonna get some rain, but first we’re going to have a decent day today,” said Mass, a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. He says there’s a front right offshore, visible on the coastal radar. But it’s going to be coming in slowly.

Mark Grealish photo / Flickr

Good news: summer's not over just yet! There are still some blue skies left in the forecast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

"About two and a half days, to be exact," says Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Jeff Abel Photography

“It was one of the most extraordinary displays of lightning that I can remember," said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. "There were tens of thousands, not thousands ... of lightning strike yesterday over the region. Just startling."

What caused the atypical show? Not the usual culprit, says Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. 

Jonathan Cooper

The worst is over is now, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“The heaviest rain, and certainly the lightning is over for the time being,” said Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

And the good news, says Mass, is that things will get better—eventually.

Matthew Rutledge / Flickr

Labor Day marks summer’s unofficial finale, and KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the warm weather with make a curtain call this weekend, though the beach-and-barbecue weather will be a memory by Monday.

"Today is the transitional day,” says Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

art_es_anna / Flickr

Even on days with a clear blue sky, the skies aren’t completely empty. We’re all used to seeing those great white streaks across the sky behind airplanes.

Cliff Mass says he gets a fair number of questions about these contrails, many from conspiracy-minded people who believe they are part of a nefarious government plot.

Tim Durkan

Autumn is creeping up on the northwest, but KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says we’ll keep one foot–or at least a few toes–in summertime over the coming week.

Rain was falling early Friday offshore and over parts of eastern Washington, with western Washington nestled in the dry spot in between. Mass says variable clouds and cooler weather Friday will give way to some real overcast skies at the weekend’s start.

Hang in there—the feel of Seattle's great summers is coming back this weekend.  

The autumn-like weather we’ve been having this week will yield to more typical summer fare, with blue skies in the afternoons and temperatures in the 70s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Gary Batie

Did you see them?

A line of unusual triangular-shaped clouds resembling prayer flags draped over us earlier this week.

“We call these mare's tails or fall streaks in the business,” says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

The clouds were the work of Mother Nature, but with a little help from mankind.

Half Man Half Ape / Flickr

Cliff Mass has a soft spot for the smell of rain, more specifically rain showering down on hot concrete after a long dry spell.

“This is something I’ve noticed for years,” said Mass, KPLU weather expert and professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. “After a dry period, you have the first rain and there’s this smell. I kind of like the smell myself.”

The technical name for the smell is “petrichor,” which Mass describes as “sweet, musty.”

Nomadic Lass / Flickr via Compfight

Today we’ll get plenty of sun and temps in the upper 70s to lower 80s, but clouds and precipitation are moving in for the weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“An upper-level low is approaching us from the Southwest right now,” said Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. The clouds and rain that are already in Oregon are going to move northward.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources / Flickr

Drizzly skies are expected to yield to warmer temperatures and some sun this weekend, because of an upper level trough over us and that’s causing upward motion and clouds, says Cliff Mass, KPLU’s weather expert.

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