The front has gone by, the winds have lessened, and heavy snow is falling on the western slopes of the Cascades. But first, let me answer a frequently asked question: what is the persistent echo seen just offshore of Hoquiam in many images from the Langley Hill radar? (see below). This pattern is seen persistently in the lower radar scans and looks like a half circle. The answer: the lower portion of the radar beam is hitting the surface and reflecting back to the radar, which is located a few miles northwest of Hoquiam. Such a phenomenon is known as ocean or sea clutter. The image below is from the half-degree elevation angle scan of the Langley radar, which means the center of the beam is a half-degree above the horizontal. The width of the beam is roughly 1 degree, so the lower portion of the beam skims the surface in the vicinity of the radar.
Let's compare the radar imagery at .15, .5, and 1.5 degree elevation angles this morning (7:02 AM). First .15 degrees....lots of sea clutter, but you can see the shallow convective showers way offshore.
.5 degrees--the range pulls in a bit.
1.5 degrees: no sea clutter, but the horizontal range is much less.
With taller targets, the .15 degree elevation angle can see 300 km offshore or more.
This radar image also shows weak convective showers over the ocean in the cold, unstable air and substantial enhancement of the precipitation as the air is forced to rise by Olympics and coastal mountains.
Finally, the winds. The vigorous cold front and the strong northwesterlies than followed produced some strong winds over the region--but nothing truly damaging or exciting. Here are the max winds (mph)during the past 24 hr. Gusts above 50 mph in and downwind of the Strait and some 40s over the Sound. Notice how quickly the winds weakened over land.
And yes, snow. This kind of cool, unstable, northwest flow pattern is great for snow: expect snow totals of 1-2 feet above 3500 feet. The mountains needed some fresh snow. Skiers will be happy.
Reminder: if any of you want to attend the Northwest Weather Workshop on March 1-2 (next weekend) in Seattle, you can get more information and register here.