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This has not been a good month for plane-spotters. Or kite-fliers. Or sightseers atop the Space Needle.

UW meteorologist Cliff Mass is calling our persistent mid-October fog “fogmageddon.”

That may be a bit of exaggeration; we’ll likely survive the gray, and the fog did burn off Tuesday afternoon. Still, in all the years he’s forecast weather, Mass wrote in his blog this week, he can’t recall such an extended October period of “high pressure, drought, and dense low clouds and fog.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Ni Cushmeer explains what’s happening.

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Warm-weather systems coming from both the east and the west have trapped cool, foggy air in a “big dome” of high pressure, with the warm air acting as a “pot lid” over the city, she said.

That fog, along with temperatures in the upper 40s and low 50s, isn’t likely to go anywhere until another system, say a storm, comes through and scours out the air, Cushmeer said. Such a system would bring that warm air down to the city, and we could have a warm, clear day or two, possibly as soon as next week.

Still, sunny days are expected to be few and far between.

The dreary air is more or less the norm for this time of year — though some years are foggier than others, Cushmeer said. Winds in the Puget Sound area tend to be too light to affect it much, she said.

Five flights have been diverted from landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport because of the fog, but delays have been in the single digits, airport spokesman Perry Cooper said Tuesday afternoon.

Because Seattle is notorious for overcast weather, the airport has the best technology and rating available for low-visibility landings, he said, so the decision to change course because of fog usually has to do with the pilot’s comfort level and the plane’s technology.

The degree varies, but “we’re in low visibility 44 percent of the time,” he said Tuesday.

While a few nice days at the start of next week are in the forecast, they aren’t a sure bet. The cold front that could make that happen is on track to hit Seattle, but it could easily miss us entirely, Cushmeer said.

The fog should clear a bit by the middle of next week, as showers are in the tentative forecast. If that’s the case, it could be a soggy Halloween.

In the meantime, here’s a plan for those who must have blue skies: Go up. Head for the mountains — above the fog.

Colin Campbell: 206-464-2033 or

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