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

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.

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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.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

The record for consecutive days without rain at Seatac is 51 days, set in 1951. To break that record, we'd need to see no rain through Tuesday.

"I think we are probably going to get to 49, but I don't think we'll get to 50 or 51," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. "It's tragic. But we're going to be happy with the second longest streak of dry weather in Seattle history."

jakobnewman / Flickr

Western Washington is wrapping up its driest August ever, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

And, with no precipitation in sight for the next two weeks, Mass says we may even break an all-time streak for the most consecutive days without rain. The record is 51 days, set in 1951.

"We are thirty-eight days in, right now," he says. "So, we certainly have a shot at the big record."

esanchezleenheer / Flickr

Enjoy a beautiful weekend, says KPLU weather expert and UW professor Cliff Mass.

But we've entered a late-summer pattern that should start bringing occasional showers, starting early next week. That brings an end to an annual dry period that makes the northwest drier than the deserts of Arizona, says Mass. It's been four weeks without measurable rain in western Washington.

Today’s going to be hot again, but it's already cooler than expected this morning, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We had some marine air that pushed up the coast, clouds have inundated the coastal areas. So if you're on the coast it's going to be cooler," he says. "And here in the interior we're starting cooler: five to ten degrees in some places. But the trouble is this cool marine air is very thin."

He says that cool marine layer will burn off fast, yielding to hot temps aloft. So today he expects highs of high 80s to 90 closer to the coast. And away from the water, perhaps the low 90s.

"So one more warm day. Then tomorrow a step down. Today's the hottest day."

There's a chance of thunderstorms Saturday afternoon, which could have a big impact on the wildfires in Cle Elum and Thorp. The danger is the chance of lighting without rain.

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.

ripporch / Flickr

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 / www.skunkbayweather.com

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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