Saturday, January 5, 2019

Major Wind Event For Western Oregon and Washington

3 PM update at bottom

A major wind event is now probable for western Oregon and Washington, potentially the strongest windstorm so far this winter.

Very strong winds, with gusts to 50-80 mph, will move up the Oregon coast this evening and then pummel western WA in the morning hours, ending with a powerful surge of westerly winds in the Strait.

This is serious, so I would be prepared (batteries, don't drive around during strong winds, etc.).  There will be power outages.

The 8 AM GOES-17 weather satellite imagery shows the storm west of northern CA and southern Oregon (you can see the swirl of the clouds).

And the sea level pressure forecast for 10AM this morning suggests an elongated area of low pressure associated with the storm, with an area of very large pressure change (gradient) to its south. THAT is where the strong winds will be.


By 10 PM tonight, the area of large pressure change moves along the northern Oregon Coast, bringing very strong winds from Seaside down to North Bend.


Three hours later (1 AM Sunday) the hyper pressure gradient reaches southwest Washington.


And by 4 AM has pushed over Northwest Washington, including Puget Sound.


I will now show you the output of the UW high-resolution ensemble system, probably the best regional ensemble system in the U.S. (this is the kind of system I have been trying to convince the National Weather Service to do nationally).   The graphic is from the Seattle WindWatch website, by the way (and was create by UW Research Meteorologist Jeff Baars).

This graphic shows the maximum wind gust forecast over Seattle from a large number of high-resolution forecast runs.    Wow.  I am charging my smartphone immediately!  Nearly all of the forecasts are going for a significant event (gusts over 40 mph) and several have gusts over 50 mph! The timing of the peak winds vary a bit (between roughly 1 and 7 AM).
Now let me give you a more spatial view, showing the 4-km resolution WRF run made at the UW this morning. 

At 10 PM tonight (Saturday), really strong winds (blue and brown colors) are hitting the northern Oregon coast (up to 65 knots, about 75 mph!)



By 1 AM, the WA coast is being savaged by 50+ knot gusts, and strong winds are just reaching Olympia.


One hour later, Puget Sound is in the crosshairs of mother nature, with up to 60 kt gusts reaching south Seattle.   Big winds continue on the coast.


At 4AM, winds have decreased slightly over Puget Sound, but an extraordinarily strong westerly wind surge has pushed into the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, northern Whidbey Island, and the southern San Juans.   We are talking about 60 knot gusts.


In short, it is highly probable that this will be a major wind event.  Perhaps not the equal of the truly historic storms (eg., Chanukah Eve and Inauguration Day Storms), but quite possibly the big wind event of the winter.   The only thing that will help mitigate the power outages is the pruning by previous wind events.  But I expect that tens of thousands will lose power over the region.

Now back to charging all my electronic gear.
____________________________________________
Major New Prediction Tool

UW Research Meteorologist Jeff Baars has developed an exciting new forecasting too, one that digests and then plots new forecasts made EVERY HOUR by the NOAA/NWS HRRR model (HRRR stands for high-resolution rapid refresh).  This approach is also called a lagged ensemble.  Observed is in black.  The HRRR model simulations are consistently going for a big event here in Seattle, with some location in Seattle experiencing winds above 50 mph.   Think of this as a temporal consistency check in the forecast.  Also note that the big. winds don't last long...an hour or so.  Nothing much until midnight.  Then things go bad rapidly.



62 comments:

Joseph Ratliff said...

Olympia gets 30 - 38 mph (25 - 30 knots) gusts in just about every one of these storms. So I would say this could potentially be a major event for "some."

When I saw 50 - 80mph at the top, I'm glad I read into it, because even the NWS computer generated forecast says 41mph gusts in 98513 (and for a 3 or so hour window). That can shut lights off (sadly), but PSE is really good at getting them back on inside of 4 - 6 hours later.

Power outages, sure ... "Major" ... for some. For people in those areas batten down the hatches, get prepared, and stay safe! :)

MAC in Bellingham said...

This does look significant. I see that NWS is including more detail on its "Weather Story Page" as well:

https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/FXC/wxstory.php?wfo=sew

On the last December 28-29 storm and prediction, UW maximum gust was at mid 40's and NWS was upper 20's. I think the NWS turned out to be a closer prediction. The spread on this forecast is not as much, but peak gust for the NWS is still lower by about 5 to 10 mph.

I see that here in Bellingham, the wind direction is the less common SW (rather than the typical SE) due to the predicted winds coming down the Straits.

Elaineinwa said...

I was wondering about this storm as it's taking almost the same path as the Columbus Day storm, except for the previous being an "ex-typhoon". It's hitting the sweet spot of the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Be safe everyone! Go Hawks!

Unknown said...

Wow that actially gave me a bit of warning..I live on Kent's west hill with a wide expanse of clear land...gonna be a windy night.

Name Redacted said...

I need recommendations on a good weather app for my phone. Mainly one that can alert me on severe weather like this. Cliff you need an App!!

TW B said...

Another wind event?

Unknown said...

So if I live on Camano, facing Whidbey island, and I have the opportunity to go stay in Marysville instead, I probably should?

Unknown said...

When can we expect any updates ?

Jonathan Doe said...

Interesting contrast between current NWS vs Cliff's progs. Clearly someone is wrong.

Flying Bear said...

Why is the NWS downplaying this event compared to your analysis? Your use of language would make me thing the NWS would issue a high wind warning, but they have only issued wind advisories, even for the coast. So why would this be "the wind event" of the winter if it isn't even getting the highest possible warning?

Alex M. said...

Excited 😁

Unknown said...

Well then, i guess KOMO NEWS AM1000 needs to get their head dislodged from their rectum. All morning I've heard them say that yeah, there's gonna be some wind at some point, but it won't be any worse than what we've already experienced in the last 30+ days. What you got here contradicts that. Dadgum LameStreamMedia strikes again

Unknown said...

Nothing like Columbus Day

SharkOnGames SharkOnGames said...

I've been checking windy.com.

A few hours ago the NAM and GFS models were showing the wind event from about midnight until 4am or so, but the ECMWF showing basically nothing. But now the ECMWF is showing the event as well, but actually showing it stronger than before and lasting until roughly 6am.

Curious how this one plays out, looks like I won't get any sleep tonight. :) Too excited to sleep!

Joseph Ratliff said...

@Flying Bear ... my thoughts exactly.

There are areas (the Strait and South King - see Cliff's images) that show an awful high wind gust in the 4k GFS between 1am and 4am. Those could be "major" for sure.

We'll see how it plays out.

Rabbits' Guy said...

I best double up the string on the rock at the Bow station. I think it will probably list about 47 degrees from perpendicular sometime tonight.

Unknown said...

Why isn't NWS latching on to this? Afternoon forecast and AFD make zero mention.

Unknown said...

Try weatherbug.

Pridge Wessea said...

I’m guessing the disconnect is due to the trump shutdown. Media gets their info from the NWS, so blame trump and not the media.

They’ve just issued a warning now.

BAMCIS said...

16 October 2016 is why.

Lynn In Alki said...

I just moved to Alki Beach and it sure seems the wind is stronger here compared with other parts of Seattle. Is this true?

Craig McPheeters said...

Using LuckGrib, the HRRR and NAM forecasts are converging... This data is for a point (1.5nm) west of Shilshole Marina,

(old) Jan 5 18Z, NAM 3km, peak winds at 4am, 22 mph gusting 34
(new) Jan 6 00Z, NAM 3km, peak winds at 3am, 32 mph gusting 49

(old) Jan 5 23Z, HRRR 3km, peak wind at 4am, 40 mph gusting 56
(new) Jan 6 02Z, HRRR 3km, peak wind at 4am, 33.5 mph gusting 47

HRRR and NAM are now essentially in agreement, except for minor timing differences.

abbywall said...

For those looking for a weather warning app, I use Dark Sky, it’s available on both iOS and Android, it’s quite configurable and will give you accurate location-specie alerts. The developers are also respectful of your privacy unlike many other weather apps.

Das Manatee said...

Yes Alki’s position in Elliot Bay and orientation in the sound and it’s north northwestern exposure typically has it experiencing stronger gusts and more extreme surges.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Alki would have stronger winds. That's like saying you live higher so should you expect more snow?

High wind warning as announced officially.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Alki would get more wind it's right on the sound. You serious?

Cailean said...

We love you, Cliff! Thanks for keeping us up to date.

craiger77 said...

Half an hour before midnight and the winds are dropping here on the central Oregon Coast. Not as severe as Cliff was predicting. Maybe around 50 knots max gusts. No power outages, but we rarely get them since it seems most of what could blow down has blown down around here.

Deane said...

Well, here we are in Olympia at 1am and yet again the exact opposite of what's predicted with total calm light showers and no wind. Is it any wonder the biz most responsible for dangerous global-wide air pollution keeps the debate of wrongdoing confined to the brutally difficult arena of weather prediction?

annika bowden said...

Lynn, I live on Alki too, and one thing we've got going for us is that we don't have as many power outages in this neighborhood as a result from these winter wind storms, as do other areas in West Seattle . Is this from the relative lack of trees here, by the water, I don't know, but even though it is and will be very windy here, we may or may not lose power. I do move my parked car away away from under the trees during these storms, and stay out of Schmitz Park. I even stay away from the cedar trees by Whale Tail Park - large chunks of those trees come down almost every winter due to the winds. We'll see how things pan out!

Sharon Steinbis said...

2:30 a.m. and both dogs and the cats are on the bed shaking! Power is out!

Heidi said...

I had not read about this storm but was woken up by the howling wind. This is scary!!!!!!! We have huge evergreen trees behind our house and they are swaying alot. Animals are all terrified. I have not seen wind like this in a long time. We are in the Renton highlands

Joseph Ratliff said...

In Lacey we started out at about 1220 pm with breezy winds, but shot up to 31 mph gusting to 49 mph. At 3 am, the winds have fallen off the table and are now easing slowly (10 - 15mph).

Mego said...

Tree through the roof over here in Olympia, that was terrifying!

WS said...

8,000 customers out in West Seattle ... including Alki.

Richard said...

3:20 am and the PSE outage map says 161,000+ without power around the Sound.

dnunan28 said...

Lost a 100ft hemlock tree in our yard this morning, we are the northeast side city of Puyallup, and are usually sheltered from strong southerlies or southeasterlies. This wind had more of an ESE component. The tree took out our patio cover, a corner of the house roof, our travel trailer and a section of fence,feel pretty lucky none of us hurt.(though clean underware are needed)

Around 1130 temp went from 43 to 51 in 45 min, had a few very small gusts during that time. It then went dead calm for about 30-40min. then all of sudden the roaring started,branches and pine cones falling allover on roof and the deck, these gusts came in waves or sets(like ocean waves) at the beginning of 4th set we were in front of house watching the light show of powerlines arcing in the distance when we heard the crash and felt the house shake. The winds continued about 40 more min, now just a light breeze here.and we somehow still have power. The 51 temp stayed for about an hour, then dropped quickly to 40, in about 45 minutes
There is a chainsaw with my name on it tomorrow and next weekend

BAMCIS said...

Was mostly dry and calm last night. Maybe one brief rain shower. Had to check the news to see if it was a bust but apparently it wasn't. Looks like the Olympics kept most of Kitsap shadowed from the whole event.

MAC in Bellingham said...

This was not much of an event in Bellingham. NWS cancelled the wind advisory about 4 hours early. The NWS forecast for Bellingham turned out to be a bit high. The winds we got 2 days ago were stronger and lasted longer. It looks to me like the anticipated push of very strong westerly winds down the straits never really developed as predicted. There were some 50+ gusts in the exposed part of the straits, like Smith Island, but this is not at all unusual. Smith Island also had more winds 2 days ago. The San Juans did not get much either.

When this storm was developing, I went to the NWS Weather and Hazards map to see what the northern California and Southern Oregon coasts were getting as a preview of what we could expect. And really, it was quite tame by coastal standards. Perhaps the storm was farther off shore at that location, but none of the buoys showed that much wind. I see there ended up with more wind farther north, but these were in typical highly exposed locations.

One thing I did notice was the barometer dropped fast and got pretty low here(29.14"/97.6mb). I certainly anticipated a lot more here.

Would be interested in a post-mortem from Dr. Mass on this storm. Satellite pictures with front overlays looked odd. There was a long N-S stationary front connected with this. The area of lowest pressure did not seem well-defined.

Glenn said...

What wind? We're on Marrowstone Island, just East of Port Hadlock. There was a brief rain squall at about 3:00 a.m. that lasted 10 or 15 minutes. It's been calm and quiet otherwise. Reading the other comments, I assume the Olympic wind shadow was in effect. If I didn't read your blog, I never would have known of this event.

Ellen Falconer, LMP said...

Awakened around 0300 to heavy rain, lightning and thunder! A few guests, then all was calm..Port Townsend.

Kelsi said...

At 3:00 AM, here in central Whidbey Island, we were woken up by one of the brightest flashes of lightning and then an incredible boomer of thunder. It moved quickly past us to the south and east, but I could see several more flashes and fainter thunder as it went...

jeff said...

The NOAA forcasts we get in Moses lake are not very accurate. Right now the weather graph is calling for 18 mph winds gusting to 25 and I'm observing 2.7 mph gusts to 4.5. not even close

MO said...

Here in North Bend we had a tree come our living room at 2am. The wind was crazy loud. I’m seeing a max gust of 77mph.

Rabbits' Guy said...

I am not sure of the windage, but the Bow Station rock-on-a-string got a good soaking and lit up a few times like a great beacon to wayward travelers at about 3:00 AM.

Bruce Philbrick said...

Very little wind on South Whidbey last night. I did see a few flashes of lightning and hear some thunder around 0300, but overall it was a non-event here.

Colleen said...

Absolutely nothing extraordinary in north Whatcom County. Wind picked up around 4 AM and there were some very strong waves of gusts, but not a "windstorm" by any means.

Unknown said...

Had a nice thunderstorm during the night in the San Juan Islands with some of the heaviest rain I've ever seen here. Some strong wind gusts too but it all blew over in about half an hour.

Organic Farmer said...

Nothing at the Admiralty inlet. LOL

Even with my Neanderthal level of education, I could tell something was brewing somewhere though. The clouds comming off the Olympics yesterday afternoon were shaped like funnels and hamburgers!

Yes the Puget sound region is full of complex microclimates and prediction is difficult.

This is my main concern about attempting to predict the impacts of increased atmospheric levels of CO2, on our mind boggling complex bioshere.

Hence the reason I am in the Cliff Mass fan club... We need more free thinkers, and less clowns jumping on the sky is falling bandwagon..

Chris Mc said...

Our weather station hit 39m/h, before power shut down .. lake tapps was quite windy.

Organic farmer the microclimates are surely registering vastly different levels of pollution based on their locations. I think it's important to remember, that pollution is real, even if you're up wind, for now.

Lynn In Alki said...

Thanks for your thoughts! Makes sense.

Lynn In Alki said...

Yup. 😜

Lynn In Alki said...

Thanks

Grant Wong said...

I think Cliff was right on the money with the forecast last nite. He deserves a lot of thanks and credit.

Minus some localized shadow effect from the Olympics, I would categorize this as a major weather event. Shame on the local media for down playing it, or not even mentioning it until very late in the day. This should have been top of the headlines, yet nary a peep from the Seattle Times, even after the event this morning. People’s lives were at stake. The news coverage was very disappointing.

Lynn In Alki said...

Thanks

JewelyaZ said...

48 mph SSW gust at about 3 am in Bellevue near the north end of Weowna Park. Neighbor has an entire tree come down where I lost only branches and never power or internet .

Sharon said...

Cliff, Your blog enhances my life in so many ways. Specifically, the weather information, commentary on relevant news topics, lessons (science, climate) and all with a of sense doing what is right coupled with humor. Our electricity and internet went out last night, but all was well this morning. Thanks for keeping watch!

MAC in Bellingham said...

Organic Farmer said...

"This is my main concern about attempting to predict the impacts of increased atmospheric levels of CO2, on our mind boggling complex bioshere.

"Hence the reason I am in the Cliff Mass fan club... We need more free thinkers, and less clowns jumping on the sky is falling bandwagon.."

Forecasting a specific weather event is much different that researching global warming. We put very high demands on daily weather forecasts. Predicting the onset, duration, intensity and location of mid-latitude cyclones and the wind and rain that goes with them is very complicated and involves dealing with a lot of chaos in the atmosphere. With more data and more powerful computers, we tend to get better at it.

Much of the research on global warming is simply directly observing increases in the temperature of the atmosphere and ocean. Scientists are also able to directly observe increases in greenhouse gases and indirectly measure changes in temperature and greenhouse gases over a fairly long historical period using various techniques.

In addition, many of the direct effects of global warming and greenhouse gases on the planet can be observed and measured today including ocean acidification, loss of glaciers, loss of arctic sea ice, reduction in snowpack, toxic algae blooms, prolonged heat events, and sea level rising. These things do not require a forecast. They can be seen today.

Global warming researchers are more circumspect in predicting the longer-term effects of global warming on the planet, including on weather, and typically have used sensitivity models comparing outcomes based on the amount of increase in warming and greenhouse gases. It is very rare that you will find someone saying that a rapid increase in global temperatures is a good thing. Much of the resistance is simply choosing to deny it is happening despite the huge amount of scientific evidence to the contrary.

Unknown said...

Are you serious? Maybe if there was a tornado, its trump's fault?

Unknown said...

I am glad to find your weather blog. Lights went out 4 x in Puyallup, and then stayed out. Most gusts felt 20-30 mph with 1 feeling like 50-60 and possibly seemed as though i saw possible lighteninf but it may have been a transformer or something around midnight or 1 am. I am not sure as i fell asleep.

gnolan said...

We got a pretty strong winds starting around 19:30 last night. The timing of the lowest barometric pressure reading was close to that. Breezes did not rise to that howling sound strong winds bring through the trees around us.

Some years ago I spent a fair amount of time taking pressure readings on an old analog barometer at our slight elevation and comparing them to the Corvallis airport numbers. Also drove up to the airport a number of times, especially during very low and high pressure days, to get direct comparisons at the same elevation. All of this was of course run into a spread sheet and plotted. In effect I was calibrating my old analog unit to their numbers. Out of that fairly large data set last night was the second lowest number I recorded. We got down to around 28.95" Hg.

I entertained myself also following the falling then rising numbers along the Oregon coast and up in Seattle.

TW B said...

Nailed it! Now about that severe thunderstorm?