You thinking I am kidding don't you?
I am not.
In one part of the Northwest winds gusted above 70 mph today. You could have driven there and enjoyed a wonderful view too...if you didn't blow over first. The fact that one part of our region could have severe winds while most of the rest of us are enjoying sun and light winds is one of the marvels of living here.
The location? Crown Point overseeing the Columbia Gorge
The Gorge is not only startlingly beautiful but its meteorology is fascinating. It is the only sea-level gap across the Cascades. So if there is a large pressure difference across the Cascades air tends to accelerate down the Gorge from high to low pressure. In the winter, this generally means wind blowing to the west since in this season we often have strong high pressure areas inland and low pressure along the coast or offshore.
You have heard about the super cold air to our east--most of it is east of the Rockies, but some has drained into eastern Washington. The cold dense air east of the Cascades is associated with high pressure...much higher than over the west side of the region. The result--one big pressure difference! In fact, the pressure difference between Portland and The Dalles (east of the crest in Gorge) got to over 8 millibars this morning, which is quite large. And the big temperature difference across the mountains also helps to rev up a westerly Gorge flow.
Here is the pressure and temperature 12-h forecast for 4 AM this morning--you can see the cold air (blue) east of the Cascades, and a large number of isobars (lines of constant pressure) near the Cascade crest.
Mark Nelson, the Chief Meteorologist of Fox 12 in Portland (and a UW Atmospheric Sciences graduate!) and Oregon State Parks have put weather sensors at Vista House, the beautiful historic building that sits on top of Crown Point. This is great location to catch the winds and today its got hammered. Here is a sample of the observations:
Sustained wind in the 40s (mph) and gusts to 70! With temperatures around 30F we are talking serious wind chill (like 10F).
Want to see a video about how bad it can get at Crown Point?
Click on the image and beware of nightmares tonight:
or this one, where the reporter almost get blown away (click here)
The weather will decline a bit starting mid-day tomorrow, with some light rain on and off into the weekend, but next week guess what? ANOTHER big ridge develops in the eastern Pacific and we dry out AGAIN. Pathetically little snow from these weak systems. No floods. No real winds. No real nothing.