Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cliff Mass Explains How Climate Change Will Impact Northwest Weather In the Next Century

Tim Durkan
By the end of the century, expect warming of 2 to 4 degrees Centigrade, over the next six to eight decades, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Cliff Mass is one of the region’s clearest communicators about the weather. We talked this week about the impacts of climate change in the next century. He has indicated in the past thatwe are relatively lucky when it comes to climate change.

But there will be changes, in the future.

“I think the biggest problem is when people look at a weather event – a snow storm or a drought or some event that just lasts a short period of time – and suggests that that is an indication of global warming,” he said. “Any single storm, any single major situation does not tell us very much."

"Only looking over a period of decades or longer can we see if there’s any real trends," Mass said.

Cliff is conservative when it comes to talking about the weather in relation to climate change. He says he is following the science.

“We use climate models to see the future,” he says. Those models range from global to regional, and run at very high resolution, allowing people to see the impacts of the weather on the land.

Most of the models suggest a certain future for the Northwest.

Mass summarizes it as follows:

  • The temps will change here relatively slowly, because of the Pacific ocean.
  • But by the end of the century, expect warming  of 2 to 4 degrees Centigrade, over the next 60 to 80 years (2070s – 80s).
  • Snow level will rise, and we will have more extreme rain in the mountains, requiring more storage of rain water.
  • Atmospheric rivers that cause wet storms will be “juiced up” so the events known as Pineapple Expresses will be more extreme, wetter.
  • Big windstorms will NOT become more intense.

The weekly KPLU feature "Weather with Cliff Mass" airs every Friday at 9 a.m. immediately following BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KPLU Environment Reporter Bellamy Pailthorp. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, a renowned Seattle weather prognosticator, and a popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to a podcast of “Weather with Cliff Mass” shows.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to