May 18, 2022

The Big May Blow

 The mid-May wind event is now past its peak, but not before thousands of customers lost power.

The water vapor satellite image at 4 AM this morning was impressive, with plumes of moisture circling into the clear "eye" of the storm.  Not your typical May satellite image!

The maximum wind gusts ranged from around 50 mph on the coast and 50-55 mph over Northwest Washington to over 60 mph on the eastern slopes of the Cascades.  

But if you really like winds, head to Mount Rainier, where gusts hit Camp Muir (at 10,000 ft), 52 mph at Sunrise Ranger station, and 66 mph at Crystal Mountain.

Strong winds combined with leafed trees led to power outages around the region, with about 5000 City Light customers losing power and roughly 20,000 Puget Sound Energy users (see outage maps below)

And now the exciting news, we FINALLY will have a truly decent weekend coming up.  In western Washington, highs reach the mid-60s on Saturday and around 70F on Sunday (see forecast map for Sunday at 5 PM below).  Even mid-70s in the Columbia Basin.  Get ready to garden, hike, or take a stroll outside.  It will be perfect...for a change.

May 17, 2022

A Winter Storm is Approaching: In May!

This May we are experiencing winter-like levels of precipitation, winter-like increases in the snowpack, and record-breaking cool temperatures.

The only thing missing is a winter-like Pacific storm, with deep low pressure and strong winds.

Well, it won't be missing tomorrow:   a strong Pacific cyclone will make landfall on the British Columbia coast and gusty, damaging winds could batter the coast and Northwest Washington.

Even Puget Sound country will get a piece of it.

The low center will be making landfall on northern Vancouver Island at about 8 AM tomorrow (Wednesday), as shown by the predicted sea level pressure map at that time (see below).

The solid lines are isobars, lines of constant pressure.  Where there are large gradients (large change in pressure), strong winds are expected.  Folks, there are a LOT of isobars there.

Winds will be ferocious over the ocean, with gusts near the low center reaching 50-70 mph.  

I hope no Alaska cruise ships will be traversing the region tomorrow morning.  It might dampen the appetites of the passengers.😊

Take a look at the predicted wind gusts at 5 AM Wednesday.  Over 50 mph over the Pacific and across portions of Northwest Washington.  Going to be very windy in the San Juans, Victoria, and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

From City of Seattle WindWatch

And then as the low center moves eastward across southern BC, strong winds will surge eastward into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and winds will gust around Puget Sound (see the forecast wins at 2 PM Wednesday)

Seattle WindWatch

The latest wind forecasts over Seattle indicate the wind potential for Wednesday morning and afternoon (see below).  The red line is from the UW high-resolution forecast system...and is usually the most skillful.  It is predicting gusts exceeding 40 mph in exposed locations over Seattle.  With leaves on the trees, expect some branches to fall.

Seattle WindWatch
How usual is it to get such an event in May?  

Quite unusual.  This figure below shows the forecast pressures at 11 PM tonight at around 800 meters above sea level (solid line) as well as the standardized anomalies of the winds at that level (colors).  Such anomalies from climatological conditions are expressed in standard deviations and are quantitative measures of how usual a weather event is.   Impressively, the wind anomalies climb to 5 standard deviations, which means unprecedented in the 30-year period used in the calculations.  

Bottom line:  an unusually strong storm in an unusually cool, wet spring.

The Big May Blow

 The mid-May wind event is now past its peak, but not before thousands of customers lost power. The water vapor satellite image at 4 AM this...