An interesting aspect of Northwest storms is that generally we don't get heavy rain and strong winds at the same time. This week's early spring storm was a good example: first came the rain and THEN came the wind. Why don't they occur at the same time? It has to do with the nature of the structure of Pacific storms.
Let's start with a plot of wind, precipitation, and other weather parameters over a 72-hr period this week at the University of Washington. The top panel shows the winds and the fifth panel presents precipitation. Time is in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT or UTC). Lots of rain from 0000 to 1500 UTC on the 20th, but the big winds waited until 1800 UTC on the 20th. Classic. Remember the Chanukah Eve Storm in 2006? Pouring rain during the day, but the big winds came during the evening and early morning hours after nearly all the rain was over. I could give you a hundred examples of this behavior.
So why the separation? Consider the storm on the 20th. Here is the surface weather map for 1200 UTC on the 20th during the rainy period. The low center and the big pressure differences (gradient) was still offshore, but moist, warm southwesterly flow was coming into the area and the storm's front was approaching the coast. Wet, but not particularly windy.
Now, fast forward to 2100 UTC (2 PM)--here is the map. Lots of pressure gradient and strong winds as the low moves past us to the north. But the front is inland and the flow has switchws to the west and northwest....much cooler and drier are moving in. Yes, we can get a few showers, but not much more.
Here is the radar at this time---pretty wimpy precipitation--except for the convergence zone over the northern Sound. Major rain shadowing fro Seattle to Olympia.
A schematic of an oceanic cyclone and attendant fronts summarizes the situation. Shading shows the main clouds. The big precipitation is generally with the fronts, which lead the low center. The big winds are south and west of the low.
Yes, there are some situations where we can get driving rain and wind, but generally and with most of our windstorms, there is a substantial separation between heavy rain and wind.