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

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."

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29034017@N04/4517025858/">prenetic</a> / Flickr

Fog burns off, leaving sunshine in its wake, this weekend. That's the forecast for Friday and Saturday, says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington and KPLU's weather expert.

Fires, on the other hand, leave us with smoke, and in this week's weather conversation, Mass explains how that can affect the flavor of wine. (Click the "listen" button above, and check-out Mass' blog.)

Winter is over, if you consider the threat of snow in the cities of Puget Sound a marker of winter, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

WSDOT

It's nothing like the major storms across the midwest and eastern U.S., but western Washington is tasting a little bit of winter, finally.

"After one of the most boring winters that I can ever remember, we are going to be getting heavy rain, good snow. We'll be getting some winds gusting up to 30 to 50 miles per hour, and big waves along the coast," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Morning clouds should give way to afternoon sunshine Friday in many Puget Sound neighborhoods. But some unpleasant weather is headed our way for Saturday, especially in the Seattle-to-Everett area.

That's the immediate forecast from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

  [Feb. 11th Update -- Audio problem fixed]

While the Northeast struggles with a massive snowstorm, the same forces are keeping it mild on the West Coast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

What are those forces? High pressure and low pressure. Okay, it's more complicated than that, but there is a high pressure "ridge" over the west, which forces a "trough" toward the east.

Johncuthbert43 / Flickr

Several days of drizzle are giving way to a pleasant--and unseasonably warm--weekend.

The best day for outdoor plans should be Saturday, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

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.

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