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A Sunny Weekend, Zooming To 80 Degrees, But Don’t Call It Global Warming

Tim Durkan
Tim Durkan Photography
Seattle waterfront sunset on May 5th, 2018.

People in the Pacific Northwest have been experiencing a bit of a roller coaster ride weather-wise lately, with temperatures spiking up and down in a manner that KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says is quite typical for late May. The ride will go uphill this weekend to a predicted high of about 80 degrees on Sunday, just in time for Mother’s Day.

“The weekend is going to be wonderful,” Mass says. The clouds will dissipate later in the afternoon Friday, he says, as temperatures climb to the upper 60s and high pressure builds. Mass says it will stick around for a while.

Temps Spike On Sunday

“On Saturday, we’ll have lots of sun, temperatures zooming up into the mid-70s,” Mass says. "And then I think Sunday we could see 80 degrees – no chance of precipitation – and maybe even the low 80s here in the Puget Sound region on Monday.”

He says the warm up will end with cooling again along the coast of Washington on Monday, then on Tuesday and Wednesday, he expects more marine air, with temperatures sinking back to about 70 degrees.

“So a very, very good period,” says Mass, “And this is quite typical of mid-May. We have this warm, dry period before the June gloom comes back in.”

Hot Weather Is Not Global Warming – But What Is?

Mass says people should resist the temptation to say that spiking temperatures are the result of climate change caused by humans. In this week’s conversation, he notes that people are often too quick to connect the dots between global warming and extreme phenomena such as heavy rains during Hurricane Harvey or the recent wildfires in California.

However, he notes one of the best signs of the role human activity is playing in climate change is a trend he has studied here in the Pacific Northwest: the decline of extreme cold periods caused by Arctic air coming into the region.

"We just don’t get the really cold temperatures anymore, the extreme cold waves,” Mass says.

“We used to get these fairly extreme cold waves in the winter time. If you look at the temperatures back in the early part of the 20th century, there were all kinds of periods where we’d have these really powerful Arctic blasts that would come in – not only temperatures dropping into the single digits…but we’d get heavy snow in Seattle, things like that. And that’s changed.”

To hear the full conversation, including Cliff’s description of how much impact humans are having on climate change and how he expects that to increase in the future, you can click on the 'play' icon at the top of this post.

Weather with Cliff Mass airs at 9:02 a.m. Friday, right after BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KNKX 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 podcasts of Weather with Cliff Mass shows, via iTunes or Google Play.

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