Seattle weather
Mass believes climate change will impact the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest, eventually, but he said it's not happening now. (AP Photo/File)

Weather in the Northwest is not getting worse

Is our weather really getting worse? We've seen the destruction from flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and typhoons the world-over, and that has led many people to proclaim that our weather is getting more extreme.

But one local atmospheric scientist says there's nothing to suggest that the weather, at least in the Pacific Northwest, is getting any worse.

University of Washington's Cliff Mass had seen one too many weather stories proclaiming that our region's weather was getting more severe so he decided to actually look at the data, to see if he could find any trends or patterns to back that up.

"First we looked at the winds to see if the winds were increasing in places like Sea-Tac or Astoria or other places, and I found that they aren't increasing," Mass said.

"Then I took a look at pressure. Stronger storms would be associated with lower pressure in the middle of the storms. We looked at the trend from roughly 1950 to now to see whether the storms are getting deeper, lower pressure, and they're not."

So what is fueling all these stories proclaiming the weather is getting more severe than ever?

"The media keeps on hyping-up stories about all these terrible storms and how they may be associated with global warming, but I think a lot of it is the fact that the media loves to play up big storms," Mass said.

He also believes many global warming advocacy groups might be using these storms to push their agenda.

"I think they see this as a way to motivate people by trying to kind of scare them to suggest that bad things are happening right now," he said.

Mass believes climate change will impact the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest, eventually, but he said it's not happening now.

"Most of those implications will be later in the century so things are going to get much worse, but right now, things haven't changed that much."

Mass said the next time you see or read a story that suggests our weather is getting worse, be sure to pay attention to who's behind it.

"When you see people who are not meteorologists, who are not atmospheric scientists, who are putting out these claims, you have to be very careful before you believe them."

Mass said there is no evidence that storms in the Northwest are getting stronger. The biggest wind storm in history in our area continues to be the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, with other big events in 1880, 1921, 1934 and 1951.

Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
Top Stories

  • Failing
    So far, King County voters are rejecting higher car tab fees to save buses

  • Minimum Age Debate
    There's a push to raise the age from 18 to 21 in order to legally buy tobacco

  • Time for Change
    Shannon Drayer is expecting some changes after the Mariners' eighth straight loss
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.