October 03, 2009

The Meteorological F Word and Improving Weather

Temperatures over the region have been generally a bit cooler than normal during the past week (see graphic) as a cold, occasionally showery, upper trough has influenced our weather. But things are going to change in a big way--towards extraordinarily fine autumn weather.

The upper level weather map for later today shows the upper trough starting to move south of us, and as a result most of the showers are found over Oregon and southeastern Washington. The visible satellite image this morning shows those shower areas and some low clouds and fog over parts of western and eastern Washington (image). But don't worry about that. The computer forecast models are in agreement that the trough will progressively move south and a HUGE ridge (high pressure) will develop over the eastern Pacific. I have included below the upper level charts for late Sunday and Monday--not only is there a ridge...but northeasterly and easterly flow develops over...and such offshore flow produces rapid drying and west side warming.

But now the F word for all gardeners...especially those of us with the hopes of gathering the last of the season vine-ripened tomatoes. Frost. Nights are getting much longer now and when the skies clear there can be strong and extended radiational cooling to space. Yes, you and everything else emits infrared radiation and thus the ground can cool overnight this time of the year. Clear skies and low humidity promotes this.
Take a look at this morning's temps at 7 AM. Temperatures at some locations both east and west of the Cascades dropped into the 30s. Remember these are air temperatures at 2 meters...around 6 ft. It can be cooler at the surface! And as skies clear the next few days and the atmosphere dries, the radiational cooling will increase...so there is certainly a substantial risk of frost in the coolest places (away from water, low spot where cold air drains, etc). So if you have some cold sensitive plants on both sides of the Cascades...protect them.


  1. Starting to look like we may actually have a shot at viewing the LCROSS lunar impact at 4:30am on Friday!
    I'm liking that warmer days and sun too. Would like one more day of sailing possibly before tucking the boat in for the winter.

  2. There is definitely not "improving" or "fine" weather coming our way. As a meteorologist Cliff, you should like the exciting weather - or at least like ALL kinds of weather. If you only like it when there isn't much going on, what kind of meteorologist are you??

  3. Weather Is my life - Seriously? stop reading this blog if you can't stand what Cliff Mass says. I also like crazy weather, and imagine Cliff does as well. I am sure people that live within the reaches of the green river right now consider this upcoming weather NICE. I have also noticed that when the weather gets crazy Cliff will update the site much more frequently, which leads me to believe he does find snow, wind, flooding to be interesting. Everyone on this blog seems to be pretty upbeat, then I hit your typical entry about how you don't like what Cliff likes, oh well, the title of the blog is "CLIFF MASS WEATHER BLOG."

  4. RobbyRob, just trying to defend my profession and keep its integrity alive. People like Cliff who, yes, knows a lot, but who refer to most weather as bad or not nice (seriously, who calls something they like bad?), diminish the integrity of the meteorology profession. I'm just trying to defend it and let people know that yes, there are people here who like weather AND know what we're talking about AND like what we do AND like what we work with. :)

  5. I should make odds as to when you have a meltdown while it's still sunny and mild in Nov.

  6. mainstreeter, yes that would be completely awful, wouldn't it?

  7. Meteorologists who interact with the public communicate to the public with words that are meaningful to the public. Meteorologist in so doing impart a valuable service to the public.

    WIML, tell the farmer that the lightning caused fire that wiped out a season’s wheat crop that it was NICE weather. Tell the people whose home and livelihood was wiped out through the flood that wreaked havoc on their community, that it was NICE weather. Tell the grieving family that the blizzard that took the life of a loved one that it was NICE weather. Tell the homeowner whose house was destroyed by a tree felled by a windstorm that it was NICE weather. Tell the drowned victim’s loved ones that the weather that caused the sudden flood was NICE weather.

    Tell the wedding party that canceled their outdoor wedding plans and moved it indoors at considerable financial expense, because they were told… bad weather was coming, when in reality, it was nice weather the forecaster meant to say.

    WIML you call that integrity? And you, WIML, say your mission is to keep integrity of the profession? I will tell you this, in my profession those who lack integrity lose their privilege to practice in that profession…and it is written into law. You see, WIML, I am a CPA [Certified Public Accountant] and know that using the wrong word can adversely affect my client.

    The general public is the meteorologist’s client. And you, WIML, would do well to speak to them using a vocabulary they understand. This blog is meant to communicate to the general public. To impart knowledge so that those who are not versed in the language of the professional may grasp the atmospheric processes that have a sensible (as in hot, cold, cool, warm, humid, dry, wetness, wind) impact on their livelihood and daily activities.

    Meteorologists know the adverse impact weather can have on society. Meteorologists can stand in awe at the beauty of the laws of physics. Yet at the same time they, as humans, can stand with their fellow humans and have empathy for their fellow man’s plight and delight.

    And remember, WIML, the technical definition of the weather concerns such things as the current state of the processes occurring within the atmosphere as described by such parameters of temperature, humidity, degree of cloudiness, etc. Yes even a cloudless, sunny day has weather. Does it too, not have a temperature and does not that temperature vary on such a day?

  8. @dfseattle standing ovation!


    I am SO SICK of "Weather Is My Life" telling Cliff how to run his blog, and insisting that up is down and down is up.

    If we weren't interested in weather, presumably more dramatic weather, we wouldn't be here day in and day out. It's a GIVEN that we are interested in changeable weather, random weather, perhaps even DANGEROUS weather.

    But as you say, the layperson sees up as up, and down as down, and is bummed out when it's cold and rainy.

  9. JewelyaZ, you may be interested in the weather, but do you really like it? There's a big difference.

  10. I remember when Cliff started this blog that someone warned him to expect trolls. This blog's comments are relatively upbeat, relevant, curious, informative and respectful. There is one rather large troll lurking to come rushing out of his gloomy cave every time someone comments on good weather. He really is more annoying than harmful.

    I'm sure we are all here to learn more about interesting weather. I find myself morbidly fascinated with bad (interesting) weather and natural phenomena: floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, windstorms, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes... Bad weather cost me a fair amount of money when my road washed out. I do not find endless dreary, drizzly days interesting, except insofar as they stimulate the growth of chantrelle mushrooms. I definitely do not find growly trolls interesting except when they are offering up edifying information. They are more in the same category as cold sleet on a wedding day.

    I am pleased to hear of a string of warm fall days and crisp autumn nights. I am ready for the change after an extremely long and pleasant summer. Good or bad, I'd appreciate more posts from Cliff on the dynamics of weather. Its true, he mostly posts when something interesting is afoot. But its all interesting. I'd love to see more tutorials on the processes of ordinary weather. perhaps Cliff is bored with this, teaching it every day. Perhaps WIML could improve "the integrity of the meteorological profession" by offering up something educational and interesting to the public.

  11. PS: If WIML had a blog I would read it because I know he would have an interesting perspective on the weather and I would know what he meant by "good" or "bad" weather in context. It is only the contradiction and hypocrisy of berating subjective language, then reversing its polarity and subjectively identifying gloomy as good that annoys. I expect that in his own environment and subjective context he could do a fair job of explaining the weather to us laypeople in the absence of argument.

  12. All,
    This is getting out of hand.

    Weather is my life: I would like to ask, firmly, that you no longer leave comments on my blog. We got your message. Everyone else, just ignore him. He is looking for attention. If he doesn't honor this request, I will remove his messages. ..cliff

  13. Winds been blowing up here in BLI. Was off the grid (not by choice, but was nice to be see Bellingham slow down) for many hours.

  14. dfseattle-

    You don't seem to get my point. 99.9% of the time, when you see a cloud in the sky, or even when it's mostly or completely cloudy, you don't get a flood, or a windstorm, or a blizzard. But people still call it "bad" or "gloomy" or "deteriorating" or something similar. There's no reason for the subjective opinions. How many people did you see die around here from last week's cloudy (with a little rain at times) weather? How many houses were damaged? None that I know of. Many of us enjoyed that and were glad to have it after a very long summer. We're entitled to our opinions just as much as the next guy.

    Cliff, I'm sorry if I disagree with you, but I'm as free to leave posts as everyone else. I know you only like to keep posts from people who agree with you, so I apologize for having a different opinion.

    Thanks for listening.


  15. Cliff-
    Why did we get such strong northerly winds today (sunday)? It was great windsurfing on Lake Washington, but blowing about 15 mph more than it usually does on a northerly day.

  16. but its these swings in temps that makes for such pretty fall colors. But what I want is a blustery halloween with a moon.

  17. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe yesterday's strong north winds were the "Fraser Valley" leaf blower blasting away. My thanks to Dr Mass for his excellent description of these in his book (which I pull out and re-study constantly). These winds generated a swell that kept me from landing at Camp Orkilla - I had to go to West Sound (on Orcas Island) to pick up my passengers.

  18. 31 at the Olympia airport this morning

  19. El Nino may mean drier winter

    El Nino is back and that usually means a mild Northwest winter with less rain and higher temperatures than normal, one of the National Weather Service's top climatologists said last week at a conference in Seattle.

    Ed O'Lenic, operations manager for the Climate Prediction Center near Washington, D.C., was the star of the annual Pacific Northwest Winter Weather Outlook last week in Seattle. More than 100 emergency managers, flood fighters and public works officials attended the meeting at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration headquarters along Lake Washington.

    Armed with charts and statistics and computer models, O'Lenic painted a picture of an El Nino winter that could give the area a respite from the stormy weather and floods of a Pineapple Express.

  20. Could we have an explaination about the conditions that caused the incredible dust storm that closed I-90? Was it just due to the speed of the wind, and dry fall conditions? I have driven through high winds out there but I have never encountered a blinding dust storm.

  21. I for one welcome our photon overlords.

    In all serious...stargazing! The moon is quite bright and yet the clarity of the night sky and its resident stars and planets, even in the city, is amazing. Taking advantage staring upward at night....

  22. We drove up and back to Mount Baker/Heather Meadows Sunday. There was a pretty stout wind! My little old mid-90s car makes funny noises in the wind. Every once in a while a gust would whistle through the drivers side glass. It kept us awake.

    Boy was it beautiful though! There was about 4-6" of snow at Artist's Point, and great fall colors.


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