Cliff Mass: ‘No doubt’ PNW is in a heat wave, but the end is near

Jul 8, 2024, 6:06 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm

Image: The sun sets over Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds on a warm evening on Wednesday, June 5, 2024...

The sun sets over Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds on a warm evening on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Photo: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest)

(Photo: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest)

After the Puget Sound region’s most recent heat wave became a mainstay for this year’s Fourth of July weekend, the weather officially broke some local records.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac Airport) eclipsed its previous record of 90 degrees set in 2010 by reaching 93. Olympia tied its previous record of 95 on Sunday, originally set in 1953. McChord Field in Tacoma soared to 96, Everett hit 89 and Port Angeles reached 90 degrees. Even Stampede Pass in the Central Cascades near 4,000 feet hit 86 degrees for a record high.

So, why is it so hot here now?

In an appearance on “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH 770 AM Prof. Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington (UW), discussed high pressure areas and the strength of the sun with Jason Rantz.

“The reason that its so warm is there’s a high pressure area in the perfect location just around southern British Columbia and that’s kind of a sweet spot to give us heat waves,” Mass said. “We have clear skies and sinking air that warms up. It tends to minimize how much cool air from the ocean comes in. So that’s what is going on. Plus, this is a very good time of the year to have a heat wave. The sun is very, very strong. We’re close to having the maximum Sun and longest days. It’s all coming together to give us this heat wave.”

More from Cliff Mass: Winter-like storm in June was ‘quite a doozy’ for Washington

Mass, who writes about a myriad of weather topics on his blog, went on to note that while breaking daily records is “significant,” he also said “they’re not the end of the world stuff.”

“Any kind of heat wave often you break someplace, some station breaks daily records, because, you know, there’s a lot of variability atmospheres, maybe you hadn’t been one that particular day at that station, Mass said.

Instead, weather watchers worried about how it is or how hot it is going to be should look at weather and temperature numbers from a  broader point of view.

“It’s when you start breaking monthly records or all-time records like we did in 2021, then you have a heatwave that can really be problematic,” Mass said.

Looking ahead to the end of the heat wave

Mass said Tuesday will be the last really warm day, even adding that it could be the warmest of this stretch in the central Puget Sound region. But from there, the days are expected to cool down again.

“Then we start cooling down, the high pressure starts moving off, and the marine air starts coming in more. And so the temperatures will definitely knock back on Wednesday, and then Thursday, even further, will probably drop back into the lower 80s and no more 90s,” Mass said on KTTH 770 AM.

When asked about he does to beat the heat and what people in the region can do to stay cool, Mass stated that was important to be smart and keep hot air from entering homes during the day and then letting cool air in at night.

You’ve got to close your shades during the during the day, and you got it you get fans and you blow the cooler in at night. (The) nice thing about our region is we tend to cool off at night. And that’s because our air is not that humid.”

Cliff Mass on other weather topics: El Nino is to blame for lower snowpack, not climate change

To hear more from Cliff Mass on “The Jason Rantz Show,” including why it’s so important to keep dogs cool when it gets this hot, head here or click on the player below to listen to the entire interview.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Cliff Mass: ‘No doubt’ PNW is in a heat wave, but the end is near