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Mild, maybe some sun, and then back to dry, dry, dry

Dave Morrow

"No major storms, no major weather, as far as I can see."

That's weather expert Cliff Mass's summary for western Washington. Mild, perhaps a shower or two Friday night, and a chance of sun on Sunday.

Complaining? Mass says it's pretty boring, for a weather forecaster.

By the middle of next week, he predicts we are likely to return to that cold and dry pattern that we saw in the first half of December. Not so good for snow in the mountains, although the north Cascades have an above normal snowpack.

In the meantime, forecasters are having fun with a few weather anomalies, such as balmy days in Eatonville and Walla Walla.

As Mass noted in his blog, on Wednesday morning, 

one area of western Washington warmed into the lower 60s, with brisk southerly winds--more like Hawaii with strong trade winds than western Washington in midwinter. The location? The area around Eatonville (near the SW entrance to Mt. Rainier). ... Temperatures were in the 50s overnight and rose to 60F at 5:55AM! Temperatures help up until 1855 GMT (10:55 AM), after which cooling occurred. Why so warm? Hint: look a the winds.

It takes a unique combination, says Mass.  Winds coming from the southwest, with warmer air floating above the cool air at the surface. Then, if you happen to be at the foothills to a mountain range, the winds can blow the warmer air downhill -- and that pressure change warms it up even more.

The north side of the Oregon Blue Mountains can get real toasty, even midwinter, under such conditions, with the towns of Walla Walla and Pendleton in the banana belt.

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 listen to a podcast of this and previous "Weather with Cliff Mass" shows.

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.