A Little More Mass
The Northwest’s most infamous forecaster opens up

If you, Steve Pool, ’77, and Jeff Renner, ’88, were in a room together, looking at the same information, would you all come up with the same weather forecast?
Not necessarily, but we would probably be on the same page. All of us use the same observations and model output, and all of look at the National Weather Service forecasts and products.

How are you (and other forecasters) able to come up with temperature forecasts down to a specific degree? E.G., tomorrow will be 73 degrees instead of between 70 and 75?
The right way to forecast is to give a range of temperatures, because there is always uncertainty with a forecast. Our new prediction tools allow us to give such ranges and probabilistic forecasts.

What makes for a good weather forecaster?
Excellent technical skills and the ability to stay emotionally neutral with the forecast (a challenge for folks who generally love exciting weather).

What’s one thing you learned from Carl Sagan that you’ll never forget?
The importance of professional scientists communicating and interacting with the public and to do so without intermediaries (e.g., the media) when possible.

Is there a certain part of the world whose weather intrigues you most?
The Northwest of course! We have spectacularly varied, intense, and interesting weather.

What’s the biggest challenge about predicting the weather, especially since so many people seem to rely on your forecasts?
Predicting snow has to be up there. It is the most difficult forecasting problem we face over the Northwest lowlands.

What’s your favorite kind of weather?
Major windstorms and lowland snowstorms.

What are you reading right now?
Right now? The Economist magazine.

When you’re not predicting weather, what are you doing?
I very much enjoying hiking, cross-country skiing, and biking. Enjoy local theater and classical music. And WATCHING the weather.

Umbrella or raincoat?
Gortex raincoat. Can’t bike with an umbrella.

One Response to A Little More Mass

  1. David Doyle says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed. Cliff Mass is a real asset to the community.

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