Today the winds really kicked up prior to and during a strong frontal passage. Over the lowlands there were gusts to 50-60 mph in exposed locations and in the mountains hurricane-force gusts were observed at many locations. As several of you have noted, Camp Muir at 10,000 ft hit 155 mph--and at this point there is no reason to discount that reading. Tens of thousands have lost power.
The models had a pretty good handle on this event, although they underplayed the extreme winds a bit. Here is the forecast surface pressures for 10 AM Saturday. The frontal trough is offshore at this time, but you can see the packing of the isobars (lines of constant pressure) and associated strong winds right in front of it.
You can get a great view of what was happening today from the Sand Point Seattle profiler , which shows the winds aloft in time. The plot has time increasing to the left and is in GMT (1303 is 7 PM Saturday) and heights are in meters. You can see the big winds descending from aloft to the surface during the early afternoon. A solid triangle is 50 kts! Long lines are 10 knots and small lines are 5 knots. Two long lines and a short one indicates 25 kts, etc.
Anyway, today is a good example what a strong front can do. It has through now and winds are rapidly relaxing. Tomorrow will be mostly dry.
And in Montana the winds hit 114 mph and the anemometer blew away.
0624 PM NON-TSTM WND GST 1 NE CHOTEAU 47.82N 112.17W
02/12/2011 M114 MPH TETON MT TRAINED SPOTTER
LAST WIND REPORT FROM CHOTEAU AIRPORT FOR
AWHILE...ANEMOMETER BLEW AWAY
You know things are getting exciting when the anemometer blows away. Something I teach my students in the UW weather forecasting class.
And winds were very, very strong yesterday afternoon on the Oregon coast. Check out this video:
Now I don't want to get anyone excited, but the models are suggesting that later this week and next weekend we could get much colder with a chance of lowland snow.
Snow in the mountains is a certainty with this pattern.
So an alert to transportation crews in the area. Prepare you deicer fluid and get some rest. You may need it!