May 31, 2011

Napavine Tornado

NOTE: Will be trying the videopodcast tomorrow (Friday) morning again. Hopefully will be a bit smoother!...cliff

Today the NWS released a statement confirming that an EF0 tornado (the weakest kind) hit about a mile east of Napavine, a small town in SW WA near I5 around 2 PM (2100 UTC) on Friday (see map):

The tornado touched the ground for a few hundred feet, damaging a barn, some fences and a few trees.

Here is a video of the scene:

Curious, the first thing I did was to check out the radar image (below). You can see a very strong line of convection...yellow indicates a real downpour.

But what about rotation? Any sign in the radar Doppler velocities (which they NEVER show on TV)? The colors in the image below for 2 PM indicate velocity towards or away from the radar (which in this case is just west of Portland). Rotation is shown by a couplet of warm and cold colors, warm colors (e.g., yellow) indicating flow moving away from the radar and cold colors (e.g., green) towards the radar). No sign of a velocity couplet.

This suggests a weak, non-supercell tornado. There can be some weak rotation near the surface (perhaps from air passing around a small terrain barrier) and the rotation gets "spun up" by the updraft of the convection. Sort of like a skater spinning up when she pulls her arms in (this is really based on the conservation of angular momentum).

Typically Washington gets a few tornadoes a year and few of them are very damaging. The worst we have ever had was the EF3 Vancouver tornado in 1972.

KUOW Situation

Still waiting on them after I asked them to work with me on some type of compromise. Today their board chair put out a statement saying I decided to quit (not true) and that it was also the decision of the program manager, Jeff Hansen. Just gets stranger and stranger.

I think I was the only regular they had down there that was not allowed to speak on a variety of topics. Even stranger, I have talked to a number of other radio stations and NONE of them have said anything about constraining my speech. In fact, one news director laughed and said he WANTED me to talk about education topics--it would lend interest to the program. Why is KUOW different? Why is speech most constrained on a public radio station owned by the University of Washington?

If you are interesting in supporting this request for them to reinstate my weather segment here is the petition site:

Facebook web site:


  1. Sounds like you should just take your expertise elsewhere. I heard KUOW's weatherman on Friday and if that's all they want, they're welcome to it. Maybe they think they are (or want to be) just another radio station?

    Interestingly, I got a membership invitation in the mail today. Given their interest in serving my needs and interests, they can save the postage.

  2. Cliff, I think KUOW is a lost cause at this point - especially with the interest other media outlets are giving to you.

    From a Public Relations perspective, KUOW is trying to save face and shift the blame. They had no idea this event would gather the momentum that it has.

    Use it to your best advantage. As Carl Sagan would say, "Imagine the possibilities!" Billions and Billions.

  3. This relates to your last post, but we have had some great thunderstorms east of the Cascades. They've been isolated, tied to the terrain, but great height, anvils, and cloud tops, as close as you get to the midwest over here.

  4. Yeep. Tornado. Do Not Want.

    I think KUOW is saying the same thing about you. For whatever reason, their management Does Not Want you around, in the strongest terms Red Square can come up with. I say it's time to take your services elsewhere. They're being VERY passive-aggressive... do you really want to work in that environment?

  5. Cliff- Great article in The Stranger. Thank you for speaking out. This is censorship pure and simple. The dumbing down of America continues, portending enormous problems for us in the future, as the Chinese (and other countries) invest heavily in science education (and also want to send their kids to the best schools in the US).

  6. I'll continue to support your right to be heard but if you can find a forum that is less constraining, I think that is the obvious choice. Nobody listens to Cliff Mass for just the weather report. KUOW insults its own listeners by inferring as such. You're much more than that and they have lost sight of what's important in this silly controversy they have invented.

  7. Move on, Cliff. Who wants to be they aren't appreciated?? I would love to see you on Bob Rivers on the new KJR! Talk about a free form environment.

  8. I have to admit that I have never heard your radio program because I don't listen to radio. I found you here on the internets and it's obvious you know the Pacific NW weather like nobody else. Have you considered doing your own weather blog (vlog) on YouTube? The platform lends itself perfectly to a situation like this, where you already have a following of likely subscribers, but you would be free to talk about other things whenever you wanted and those interested can follow those issues too. Plus, you would have as much time as you wanted to elaborate on cool weather phenomena--there is nothing I enjoy more than watching a passionate scientist excitedly explaining something interesting. You could have a giant map of the PacNW printed on a white-board-type surface on which you could draw with colored markers. Anyway, just an idea. A show can begin with very casual production values and get more sophisticated as time goes by. A good example of a successful show like this is Viperkeeper's channel at He is an expert on venomous snakes from around the world and produces a 20-minute show once a week from his reptile room along with occasional shorts on subjects he wants to talk about. It's not always fireworks; sometimes it is just him maintaining his collection, but he has been doing this for years and has a regular following. The love he has for his animals and the science is addicting. (BTW, he does Not feed live prey to his snakes.) I would LOVE to subscribe to a weather blog YouTube show put on by you!

  9. KUOW doesn't DESERVE you... have huge self-respect, Cliff, and shop the other stations against each other until you find the best deal and broadest audience. We will follow you. If the new place pays you, if you object to being paid (or contractually through UW, cannot) then plow the money into your charitable arm.

    I think moving on with dignity and disappointment is your best move. Also, do continue the podcast. I know it sounds wacky, but MORE, MORE!! I feel like there's a lot to learn every day and I am thrilled to learn something from you every chance I get.

    Thank you, again.

  10. Maybe you could go to the UW Ombudsman's Office, They do deal with administrative concerns about "clarification of rights and policies"

  11. So KUOW's Board Chairman says you quit while their web site talks about your dimissal. Seems to me there is a great gap of accurate information between what the news department says and what the board says. Who is correct? Or is this just one more indication of the low quality of KUOW's product and board?

  12. Sorry, sir, but you ought to know this by now. Move on. You can't win against lifers.

    Bureaucrats cannot understand anything but the five-year-plan and falling in line behind the Supreme Leader (whoever that happens to be, and it doesn't matter who that happens to be).

    They are firmly wedged into their corners and are counting the days to retirement, which is what lifers live for. You will not be allowed to change that.

    To them you are only a slightly annoying irrelevance.

  13. Loved hearing your weekend weather spot on KUOW. Came to hate the game of trying to guess just what time they would broadcast you. KUOW's programing for Friday morning has long suffered from a mixture of tedious subjects presented in a painfully self absorbed manner, and predictable views presented in a painfully self-absorbed manner. All I wanted to hear was your weekend weather & other. Since KUOW threw you over the side I have been spared the necessity of tuning in on Friday mornings. The upshot is that KUOW deserves neither your expertise nor my support.
    Thanks for starting and continuing your blog. I now look to it to get your weather and other reports.
    thanks, Cliff.

  14. I have to concur with what others are saying. KUOW's management and board have gone beyond thinking rationally and are purely trying to save face. If they were in it for the listeners (or even just audience numbers), they would've done a New Coke-style about-face and brought your segment back with fanfare (with some cheesy yet catchy slogan, "You Spoke. We Listened.").

    Unless you can find a solution which will allow them to save face, going back to KUOW isn't going to happen.

    Podcasts are an interesting alternative to radio these days. Unfortunately, the technology is still alienating to many listeners (trying to get my wife's grandmother connected to a BBC stream over in Belgium is proving to be challenging); however, it is something to consider.

  15. the petition asks for kuow to investigate steve scher and to publically apologize to dr mass.

    you should be more realistic, ask them to remedy global warming

  16. I guess I am on the "move on" bandwagon. I have seen this movie before, and KUOW is showing they have no problem with burning their bridges, with both Cliff and us their smaller patrons.

    This reminds me so much of the time KIRO-FM ditched "The Pat Cashman Show". After a few weeks of just trying to pry reasons out of KIRO, and then a few months putting pressure on advertisers but KIRO still would not budge. This despite the fact that quite a few advertisers DID pull their spots. Cashman was very popular had a fairly big audience, had an entire morning show -just sayin..

    KUOW has been acting like they think they are a "commercial" station in regards to customer relations for quite some time. I can't tell if they have some hidden agenda, or if it is all just clueless and self absorbed management, but who cares -the bloom is off the rose. Time to cut your losses and head for greener pastures Cliff.

    Cliff, I am hoping you can do a post about the tornados in Massachusetts. Seems like such an unlikely place for a tornado outbreak!

  17. AM 1090 is the way to go Cliff. Add your scientific analysis to the TRULY progressive radio in Seattle. Thom Hartmann + Cliff Mass = radio ecstasy. Hell, they would probably give you your own show.

  18. Wish the listeners could just get a straight story out of someone at KUOW. Either someone "upstairs" didn't want your opinions on education aired, or it's a more straightforward case of Steve Scher being inexplicably rigid about controlling your spot's content.

    Either way, do you really want to return to where you're not wanted? I don't see a reconciliation with the powers that be at the station - sounds more like they're closing ranks and making excuses.

    Your fans will follow anywhere you want to go. I thought your YouTube test video was great! And sorry to say, KUOW has lost a lot of credibility.

  19. Cliff, if you start your own podcast, I bet our new station KPTZ 91.9 would air it. Port Townsend loves you.

  20. Cliff, if you start your own podcast, I bet our new station KPTZ 91.9 would air it. Port Townsend loves you.

  21. Doesn't KUOW have guests who speak about gardening, home repair, and Canadian news? I assume they are expected to keep to those subjects.

    I think KUOW should periodically have you as a guest to talk about education -- regardless of what happens to your weather segment -- because you are knowledgeable and articulate about education. But it's almost unheard of for a regular on one topic (e.g., you, or one of the other regulars above) to be guaranteed the right to speak on other topics, either as part of the weather segment or at other times.

    I think you should offer to resume the weather segment and stick to weather, if you and KUOW can get over the bad blood. Maybe taping the segment would work better. Meanwhile you can appear as a guest on any stations that want you (hopefully including KUOW), talking about any other topics, as often as you want.



    Joseph Ratliff

  23. Radio does not have tenure. Move on.

  24. I just remember TWO other prominent and misguided firings at PublicTV (not Radio). Those of us old enough remember Rukeiser’s WallStreetWeek and Bob Newrock’s famous “elves indicators” that were great in forecasting the market direction. (They were 10 contrarian indicators like interest rates, correctly going against the mainstream - and adding them gave a sum between -10 and +10).

    Rukeiser fired Bob for some dumb reason and made his own index, asking 10 human experts that were always bullish and wrong except for Gail Dudak who turned bearish before the dot-com crash from which we still have not recovered a decade later.

    Rukeiser summarily fired Gail for being too bearish! We strongly needed both Bob and Gail and now we need Cliff.

    Please don’t just turn over and let KUOW make such a misguided and wrong move.

  25. This is already old news. Move on. Work with the video cast and you will excel and it will give you all the tools to really explain yourself and the weather. Out of the box and onto the tube!


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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