October 11, 2009

A shift to stormy conditions

Well, it couldn't last forever. Several you have asked about a big storm in the offering. Well, there will be a big storm...but sufficiently offshore that the major winds will only strike the coast and offshore. Tomorrow--Columbus Day--will be benign, with some mixed clouds, no rain, and temps reaching the mid-50s.

But on Tuesday a major low will move up along the coast (see graphic), with strong winds offshore (graphic). Not much for us wind-wise. Rain will also be modest over Washington, but for California, it will be a different story, with heavy precipitation on the coastal mountains and the northern Sierra (see graphics).
On a another topic...I took a bike trip up the Green River in Kent today--not many sandbags or other preparations and the waterway looks in good shape there. I did see one amusing sign for "Sandbags to Go." Sounds like a perverse form of restaurant delivery service.


  1. Interesting that the sandbags haven't started piling up along the trail. There are hundreds (thousands?) of them being assembled off of 228th, near the old landfill. And I saw a notice last week that they'll be closing the trail shortly to start placing sandbags, as the Green River Trail runs along the top of the levee.

  2. I work for a business in Tukwila and recently attended a flood awareness meeting set up for business owners. It definitely left me much more worried than i had been about potential flooding. What should we be on the lookout for aside from a "Pineapple express" when it comes to potentially damaging rains?

  3. why is the rain going to be heavier in the mountains of california?

  4. So it looks like I was right, my random Wednesday off from my hectic schedule will be full of bad weather. Oh well! All the better for actual studying for an exam rather than considering hiking!

  5. Hi Cliff,

    How much rain do you think NW Oregon (near Vernonia) will get between today and next Monday? Am wondering about the river level there for some upcoming scientific fieldwork.


  6. Kenna (and others interested in river levels): the NWS does hydrological forecasting too

    See this link http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ahps/

    and this one for Oregon current river conditions and 48 hour forecasts (scroll down to pick rivers from menus).


    There is a similar one for WA rivers here


    "must read blog"s says "why is the rain going to be heavier in the mountains of california?"

    Because that's were most of the moisture is going.

    OK, that's not really a good explanation but looking at the satellite photos it looks like they're getting a mixture of the moisture from a typhoon remnant and the jet from the jet stream contraining the moisture into CA. See where the big mass of clouds is south of the low's center. That is getting carried into CA then precips out on the Sierras.


    Or you can see the cloud top temperature colored in the 3 image loop. The tallest clouds (with the coldest tops) have the most likleyhood of having a lot of precip under them.


    That jet stream "firehose" needs to have a track further north to soak us.

    Not sure if this is part of the El Nino pattern where CA get more precip than WA over the winter or if just being the first storm after so many high ridges off the coast of the PNW. It doesn't look like our "pattern" as flipped to "standard winter" just yet.

  7. I can't help but feel a little nostalgia and sentiment to see this weather change occurring right about the anniversary of the 1962 "great" Columbus Day storm. I was a boy when that one came through. It's still the storm I measure all others against.

    Personally, I'm feeling reassured with this change in weather. I'm Northwest all the way down to my DNA and I've been longing for a good, prolonged, rainy and windy period. I hope it lasts.

  8. It will be interesting to see the effects of that much water over the recent fire areas of Southern California...

  9. california gets most of the precip...this isn't the dreaded split flow pattern which sends all our winter snow to california instead, is it ?

  10. Hmmm, KSEA-KEAT (Seattle to Wenachee) pressure gradient has been building overnight it's now (1600z - 9am) at -10.1mb. SEA-YKM is at -8.1mb.


    But the winds through the pass only seems to be 10kts.

    I'm thinking about Cliff's "Windstorms along the Western Side of the Washington Cascade Mountains" papers. I would have though you'd see more flow than we have right now.

  11. I think the weather reports have underestimated this storm. We are (as of this typing) seeing a very large and heavy rainfall moving north through western washington which was not suppose to happen (rains were suppose to stay far to the south).

    Also, winds are really picking up here (Lake Stevens), with the barometer at 29.00 (982.05mb) and still dropping fast.

    I started seeing wind gusts picking up about 10:45am and now picking up even more about 11:45am.

    Seattle is showing some gusty winds as well, right around 20mph.

    Are we going to see a revised weather forecast for today's storm?

  12. Not sure where to stick this comment, but in hopes that Cliff reads and responds...

    Have you seen this crazy sky (the link is from Huffington post) in Russia. A big, bright circular halo-like thing appears in a dark sky - what can cause it???


  13. Current winds aloft can be seen at
    These are measured at NOAA's Lake Washington Campus. The system is operated by Puget Sound Clean Air agency. Good reflection of low land winds not influenced topographic enhancement.

  14. Are the earlier long range NWS predictions of above average temps and below average precip for the fall way off the mark or what? It is currently light snow in Wenatchee tonight. Will they be revised? My 2 ½ cents.

  15. Current winds aloft can be seen at
    These are measured at NOAA's Lake Washington Campus. The system is operated by Puget Sound Clean Air agency. Good reflection of low land winds not influenced topographic enhancement.

  16. Fall is definitely here, I am back to checking Cliff's blog and NOAA every 15 minutes. My anemometer on my roof in Snoqualmie Ridge had a gust of 57.9mph today.

  17. The Moscow cloud appears to be a "hole punch cloud".

    Try this Goggle search for more similar images (and a suggested explanation).


  18. Mr Mass,
    Can you give a West Coast overview of the current storm. I am interested in why there was 20 inches of rain in California with this storm. An historical view of this would be nice too. Is this "normal" or unusual for the West Coast.

  19. it is simply HOWLING here in chehalis.... and i LOVE it!

  20. looks like scott sistek with komo saw the youtube video, I wonder if he reads this site often?


  21. This comment has been removed by the author.


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