Soggy start to weekend, but some nice skiing ahead

Feb 17, 2012

It's too wimpy to call it a storm, but wind and rain will dominate through tonight and tomorrow, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

The winds will be hard to miss along the Washington coast, getting up to 60 mph. But, as Mass explains, the coastal mountains tend to cut down those winds by the time they reach Puget Sound, leaving us with merely blustery conditions.

By Sunday, it should dry out, and skiers will find a lot of fresh snow waiting for them in the mountains. Next week appears to offer more mild temperatures with occasional rain showers.

Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington, explains why the "fronts," where warm air and colder air collide to produce most of our storms, are mild in the Northwest:

So why do our fronts have such weak temperature changes, unlike their eastern brethren?
Answer: The Pacific.  Fronts moving off of Asia and Alaska might start with large temperature contrasts across them, but the relatively warm waters of the Pacific warm the cold air over time, so by the time the fronts reach us, the temperature differences are well, wimpy. 


Do you have a weather question? Cliff Mass and Keith Seinfeld occasionally answer reader questions on the air. Share yours here.

The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and repeats twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU’s Health and Science reporter Keith Seinfeld. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator. You can also subscribe to a podcast of this and previous "Weather with Cliff Mass" shows.