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

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.

Soak up that sun while you still can. 

The spell of higher-than-normal temperatures and warm, dry weather is coming to an end, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

While the East Coast melts with high temperatures and sweltering humidity, Seattleites get to enjoy "day after day of perfect weather," says Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. 

For the coming week, we'll see more of the same—low clouds in the morning that then burn off as the sun gets stronger with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s. 

You've already seen the pattern—cloudy mornings, burning off later in the day, with highs in the lower 70s. That's the forecast for the week ahead, says Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Associated Press

Weather plays a central role in most wildland fires, and we got a grim reminder of that earlier this week with the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona that took the lives of 19 firefighters. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass dug into the meteorological data surrounding that fire and came away disturbed. He says the conditions that caused that fire to blow up and reverse course, right on top of the firefighters, were quite predictable.

Expect progressively warmer weather over the weekend and through Tuesday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, says the heat wave hitting the western U.S. is heading our way. He expects highs around 90 on Monday and Tuesday from Seattle to Bellingham, and temperatures in the lower 90s in the south Sound.

sea_trtle / Flickr

Expect the clouds to burn off later today, but you'll have to wait until Saturday for the really nice weather, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington and KPLU's weekly weather expert.

lrargerich/Flickr

Don't expect to see much sunshine on Friday, as clouds and a weak front move through western Washington. In fact, brief episodes of drizzle are possible.

But, the sun could peak through at the end of the day, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And that reflects a typical June pattern, he says.

If the clouds and showers seem dreary, fear not: warm and sunny days lie ahead, says weather expert Cliff Mass.

Friday will start off with more of the same: “A lot of low clouds, but those will be burning off by mid-day,” says Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

By Friday afternoon, temperatures will near 70, says Mass.

“But unfortunately, a weak weather system is approaching us,” says Mass, adding the system will likely arrive Saturday afternoon.

Rain showers will be coming and going this weekend. That's the big picture, but Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, says the weekend won’t be a total washout.

“Memorial Day weekend is generally not the best,” he says. “We have a really nice period sometime in the early to mid-May most years, and we’ve had it.”

Now, Mass says, we’re starting to see the infamous “June gloom syndrome,” which he says involves “a lot of low clouds and sprinkles.”

If you liked the light rain falling this morning, you'll get a bit more on Saturday, and possibly Sunday morning, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

On the other hand, if you're looking for some good outdoor times, Mass says we should dry out Sunday afternoon.

Justin Steyer

All you need is a quick look out the window to see a gorgeous day in store for Friday, with none of those morning clouds we've been seeing all week.

The day is the last “almost perfectly sunny and warm” day we’ll see this weekend, says Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.

Jonathan Cooper

"We have an extraordinary weekend ahead," says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass. "And In fact, it's probably not going to rain until at least next weekend as well."

Friday will warm up to lower 70s with “no precipitation anywhere,” says Mass, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington. “And it just cranks up over the weekend."

monagirl / Flickr

Be thankful for normal, even if it's not sunny and warm, says Cliff Mass, KPLU's weather expert and a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

"The interesting thing about this spring is it's been really normal. It's really normal to have some periods where it's above normal and below normal," says Mass, adding he's not quite a prophet of doom; maybe the "prophet of deterioration."

orcmid / Flickr

Sick of the dreary weather? Fear not—a big change is coming, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“The cold and rain is going to turn into warmth and sun pretty soon,” says Mass, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.

There's more rain in the forecast tonight and this weekend -- with some real downpours expected Saturday in the fabled "convergence zone" of south Everett.

The rain should arrive after 4pm today, for much of the Puget Sound region, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington (and KPLU's weekly weather expert).

Could that mean more landslides, like the ones that have derailed trains south of Everett, or pulled away a home on Whidbey Island?

Those showers that blew in on Thursday will keep blowing our way through Sunday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

“And that’s a big change,” he says. “The first real rain that we’ve had in a long time happened last night (Thursday), where a lot of people got about a half an inch. But it’s not the end."

And, because it's been warmer rain, the snowpack in the mountain passes is melting quickly, he says, losing about 20 inches.

Mass says another front will arrive late Friday.

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."

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