Weather with Cliff Mass

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With precipitation dominating the forecast in most of the region, what will happen to snow in our mountains?

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s going to be a wet weekend.

“There will be plenty of rain,” he said.

Friday will be cloudy, with temps getting up into the lower 40s.

“Nothing too exciting,” he says. “But then the fun stuff starts.”

A much stronger front will come in on Saturday morning, bringing moderate to heavy rain in western Washington and substantial snow in the mountains, especially above about 4,000 feet.

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What do mid-winter doldrums in western Washington, gunky skies east of us and the extremely wet weather to the south have in common?

All are connected to the very strong El Niño that still reigns over the weather systems that are dousing California and keeping skies over the Cascadia region mostly dry and “very boring” according to KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

Blame El Niño

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With recent memories of freezing temps, snowy passes, high winds, flooding and, maybe even a few popsicle toes, it might take a bit of mental stretching to recall the big weather story of 2015. But there’s no question in KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass’s mind that warmer than normal conditions tell it all.

“The key element last year was above-normal temperatures. The winter was warm; the spring was warm, and the summer was warm,” Mass says.

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Expect a brief respite on Friday and intermittent breaks this weekend from the extremely wet weather that has doused the Puget Sound region all week.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a front is moving through and the lowlands will see showers but not extreme rain. It’s a different story in the mountains, however. Mass says there could be as much as six inches of new snow on Friday, continuing a trend that’s brought huge amounts of the white stuff to the passes and ski areas over the past several days.

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Keep that rain gear handy and brace yourselves for lots of windy skies over this weekend. The clear and stable air Friday morning is expected to be just a brief respite before the weather revs up again this weekend – though the major flooding appears to be over for now.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says another big wind storm is headed our way. It won’t be nearly as wet as we’ve experienced in the past week, but the normal stormy weather pattern for this time of year is certainly in place. Beware of mudslides on some area roads as the moisture recedes.

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Rain and gray skies are in the weekend forecast for the Puget Sound region again – a stark contrast to the Thanksgiving holiday, which was characterized by an inversion that kept the clouds away, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

“We went from an unusually dry period with clear skies, high pressure and a ridge over us, to one in which a trough is offshore,” said Mass.  The trough is low pressure.

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Enjoy the weather this Thanksgiving weekend. High pressure above us has set up in a stable pattern that will stick around until Monday, keeping rain away until sometime Tuesday. 

"No precipitation (guaranteed), sunny, with little clouds ... a tonic against Seasonal Affective Disorder," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Expect clear skies and cooler temps, with highs in the mid-40s and lows down into the 20s or even the teens in western Washington. There might be some fog in a few places and there is a possibility of some air quality issues, as smog builds up.

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The holiday season might be just getting underway, but a major cold snap is already here. Ski areas are opening across the region and forecasts are calling for the possibly of lowland snow early next week. Specifically, lowland snow in some areas on Tuesday morning.

But whether that will actually come to pass is still a big question.

“I wouldn’t be the house on it,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, “But I would be prepared, either way.”  

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Keep that rain gear handy and if you live near a river, watch out for more high water. An extraordinarily long current of moisture known as an “atmospheric river” has been aimed at the Northwest, delivering rain, wind and flooding. And there’s more to come.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not the typical "Pineapple Express" we often see at this time of year.

An Extraordinary Constellation

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Another wet weekend is in store as a more normal pattern of November weather has returned to the Northwest, with cooler temperatures and persistent storms coming through every few days, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. There is even the likelihood of a reasonably good ski season this year.

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Keep your parkas handy or maybe an umbrella if you’re trick-or-treating this weekend. The forecast is full of rain — very heavy rain in places, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’s going to be really wet,” he said. “It’s pretty scary if you’re going to go hiking or go up into the mountains,” so you might want to rethink such plans.  

Mass says a series of “very wet systems” is coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and there’s “a tremendous amount of moisture behind it.”

Three Waves Of Wet Stuff

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Enjoy the, mild fall weather this weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, because there is going to be a big shift to wetter and cooler weather in the days ahead.

“You can expect the precipitation to turn on in a big way during the next week to two weeks,” Mass said, explaining that computer models show that the typical switch from sunny and warm autumn days, to damper and cooler weather is upon us.

He expects that transition sometime next week. So if you’re a hiker, Mass says this weekend is one you will want to enjoy.

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If outdoor plans are in store for you this weekend, you’ll want to keep the rain gear handy and maybe an extra layer as well.

Friday will be the last 70 degree day for a long time, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, as a rainy pattern returns to the Northwest.

He says it’s been amazingly warm for mid-October. Highs hit 70 on Thursday and they’re expected to do so again on Friday.

“That’s ten degrees above normal,” said Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

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Some residents in the higher hills of Seattle and Issaquah experienced tropical weather overnight, with warm, moist air pushing temperatures up as high as 70 degrees by Friday morning.

Everyone else was in the 50s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

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If Friday’s clouds and drizzle are getting you down, hang in there. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a warm, sunny weekend is in store as soon as the work week ends.

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Fall has officially arrived and we can feel it. Temperatures have dropped. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday’s rain will quickly move east, making way for sunny skies this weekend.

“Precipitation will lighten up certainly by the early afternoon here on the western side,” Mass said. “So, not a warm day, but at least it will be dry the second half,” he said, predicting temperatures only reaching the lower to mid-60s. “So definitely below normal and cooler than what we’ve had before.”

An Improving Trend This Weekend

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“No one’s going to mistake this weekend for July,” quipped KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. He says Saturday will be the best day of a mostly cloudy weekend that will become increasingly wet.

Friday, Mass says there will be some showers floating around, mostly offshore, and clouds elsewhere. “For most people, it’ll be relatively dry – much drier than yesterday,” He said. “So, you know, an okay day.” Temperatures will get into the upper 60s.

Get Your Outdoor Fun In On Saturday

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You may have heard that predicting the weather in the Pacific Northwest is especially difficult. 

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says that may have been the case in past decades. But the truth now is, it’s not.

"In fact, that’s one of the great fantasies of the weather world: that somehow it’s really hard to predict here, the skill is much less than other places, because of the big Pacific," Mass said. "That’s, in fact, not true."

An Ocean's Influence

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If your plans for the long Labor Day weekend include outdoor activities, be ready for a chance of rain on Sunday. Other than that, it will be mostly sunny and warm, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“There will be a lot of sun. But one day will be cloudy and maybe a little bit of rain and that’s Sunday,” Mass said.  

Keep That Raingear Handy Friday

Friday morning’s residual clouds were burning off by afternoon, leaving the lowlands basking in plenty of sun. Mass warned of fewer sun breaks in the mountains.  

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Generally cooler temperatures this weekend should help firefighters gain headway in massive, stubborn wildfire in Eastern Washington, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

"Right now we have a little bit of a cool-down going on" Mass said. "We'll see a step-down into the mid 70s (Friday) some low clouds and most of those will burn off during the day."

The weekend will see a slight uptick in temperatures with temperatures in the lower 80s. Next will a major cool-down will begin. "Cooler than normal for much of the week and even a chance of some rain later in the week -- especially on Thursday and Friday," he said.

Mass said that slight, two-day rise in temperatures won't do firefighters any good but come next week, they should catch a break. "If they can get to Monday," he said, "we'll see cooler temperatures and more humidity over the fire area." 

Stephanie Sinclair

Friday’s rainy start was the first part of “a theater piece in two acts,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. “The first act happened this morning.”

The showers that doused the northwest overnight will return in the afternoon, Mass says, accompanied by “all kinds of thunderstorms and heavier rain. ”  

He predicts those will start revving up sometime between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. “And I would expect rain around dinnertime into the early evening.”

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If sunshine is something you crave on weekends, best to get out and enjoy it on Friday if you can.

The forecast gets cloudy on Saturday, with showers increasingly likely on Sunday.  In fact, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass is blogging this week about how this August is off to a much cooler and wetter start than is typical.

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The Puget Sound is going to continue its California weather imitation for another weekend in what already is a record-breaking summer, said KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass.

"This is going to be the warmest summer in the memory of virtually everybody," Mass said. "You have to go back to the 1930s to get temperatures that are even similar to this."

Need proof? The region on Thursday beat the all-time record for 90-degree days in a summer with 10 days. The old record was nine.

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Statistically speaking, it generally is the driest time of year in western Washington. Because of this, late July into early August is the most popular time for outdoor weddings and family reunions in the region.

But showers are in the forecast this weekend. If you were thinking of getting outdoors, you’ll have to travel east over the mountain passes, advises KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. He says there’s a band of precipitation approaching from the west that will definitely dampen the region, pretty much anywhere west of the Cascades.

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The recent bout of breezes and cooler temperatures feels like back to normal in the Pacific Northwest with even a few overcast days and sprinkles thrown in.  

But the mercury will rise quickly this weekend, returning the region to above-normal heat for this time of year. Expect clear skies and a spike in temperatures as a ridge of high pressure builds above us, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Tim Durkan

 

A cool breeze brought relief to the region last night with apartment dwellers in the Belltown neighborhood enjoying outdoor music on patios or sitting on nearby ledges and breathing a bit easier.

The wind swept the smoke out the sky, improving air quality while dropping temperatures by 15 degrees in a single day, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. This stands in sharp contrast to the past three weeks which saw a long series of record-breaking temperatures. 

SEA TURTLE

Inevitably, fireworks start going off in the first week of July, even before the Independence Day holiday has begun. 

They’re not just loud, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, they’re dirty.

“We often see a spike at the air quality measuring stations of very small particles (of pollutants,)” Mass said.

He notes there is typically a gigantic jump in levels measured on the 4th of July later in the day.

“And some places it’s the worst air of the year,” he said.

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If you live in the Pacific Northwest, a scary lightning strike isn’t very likely.

But there was one recently in Seattle’s Arboretum that could be a case study in a text book.

“The lightning bolt went right down the moist center of the tree, blew the tree out and so it just spread apart,” Mass said.

He says in this case, the lightning hit just right and heated up the moisture at the core of the tree, causing steam to form and blast it into pieces.

“Pieces of that tree were sent off as projectiles, hundreds of feet away,” and embedded themselves deeply into the ground because of the force of the blow.

“It was amazingly dangerous,” Mass said.

“And there’s been explosive trees around here before; this is not the first incident. But it’s probably the most dramatic I’ve ever seen,” he said.

He says he’s never seen anything like it, at least not in nature.

“It looked like one of those onions you get at Safeco Field,” he said.

In this week’s episode Mass explains why lightning strikes are relatively rare here, why the recent one near the Arboretum visitor center was so forceful and how to position yourself on the off chance that you do get caught in a lightning strike.

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The weak, rainy front that stopped for a short visit the Puget Sound is moving along and leaving more warm dry weather in its wake, said Cliff Mass, KPLU's weather expert.

A small system between Seattle and Everett might bring brief showers later on Friday. But areas south of Seattle -- particularly areas hosting major golf tournaments -- should expect warm, dry weather for the whole weekend.  Saturday and Sunday will start with morning clouds that will clear as the day progresses, Mass said.

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The mid-week warm weather has been replaced by a cool swath of marine air that will linger for the early weekend and then dissipate into warmer temperatures come Sunday and Monday, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Expect temperatures in the upper 60s to the low 70s with morning clouds for Saturday and early Sunday, Mass said.  The warmer temperatures -- potentially into low 80s -- will return briefly later Sunday and Monday. Cooler weather then will reassert itself late Monday.

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