October 23, 2010

The Storm

Its here.... A beautiful looking storm in the infrared and water vapor satellite imagery (first and second images below). The dark color in the water vapor satellite imagery indicates dry air descending into the low, a sign of strength.

Here is a the short-term forecast for 11 PM tonight...an impressive 966 mb low! There are a lot of isobars and very large pressure variations that produce strong winds over the Pacific Ocean.

As forecast the winds have really accelerated offshore and along the coast, with sustained 30-40 mph, with gusts of 50-60 mph. Here are the maximum gusts at Destruction Island...right off the WA coast...gust to 54 kts-- 62 mph. Lots of wind gusts above 50 mph over the ocean. The waves are increasing rapidly...now approaching 20 ft seas offshore--and they will rise further.

Right now the winds are climbing over NW Washington (Strait of Georgia and eastern Strait)--here is the sustained wind forecasts for 1 AM (30-35 mph with higher gusts)

The Smith Is reporting station died, but here is from buoy 48088 at the eastern entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Peak gusts are at 35 kts and rising.

But this is NOT going to be a major wind event in Seattle...even though some TV stations (unnamed ) are talking about it.

And of course it is WET outside,with steady rain over the region...here is the latest radar--green is moderate rain, yellow is heavy. A very nice rainshadow NE of the Olympics.

The heavy rain should be done by sunrise, with showers tomorrow.

Computer models are having a hard time deciding where the low is going--we will see.


  1. At 11:27 PM. Sitting here outside of Sequim with gusts from the SSE to 35mph and only a bit of rain now and then. The rain shadow in all its glory. Thanks for the updates Cliff and the photos-they're beauties alright.

  2. It's 1:40 AM here in Eatonville and I was wakened by the gusty winds. It is currently sustained 15-20 with a gust so far of 36. The forcast for our "zone" was winds of 10-15 mph winds. Wondering what tomorrow night and Monday will bring if the forcast for then is 15-25....?

  3. i want more rain! i live in port townsend and i am craving a REAL rain event, what can you offer me?

  4. ...at 0535 this morning, Arlington Airport (about 3.5 miles from where I live), had reported steady winds of 16mph, gusting to 25mph.

  5. The low passed through early this morning and the winds hit at 5:24am in Lakewood (near Ft Lewis) - woke me up. Gusts of 25mph from the West (we are slightly protected from the West) and rain of 6.75 inch/hour but it only passed through heavy for about 10 min. Currently 6 mph from South with BAR at 29.00 steady. Love the sound of rain on the roof

  6. What do you think of the accuracy of the "storm total loop" in NOAA's Doppler Radar selections options?

    How does it correlate with observations taken at stations conforming to NWSI 10-1302 (4 OCT 05)?

    I live in the Gresham, OR area, (mouth of the Columbia Gorge) and have had to become a micro-climate specialist to get anything out of NOAA observations. By my (non-compliant) metrics, we get almost twice the rainfall as the PQR station only 10 miles west, but less than interpolating the "storm total loop" gives for us. The STL gets more accurate with a heavier rain event, though, and it's more accurate if the major forcing is directly westerly, as opposed to having a southerly component.

    Do you WX gods ever keep stats on digital predictions vs. manual observations, and if so, are those records available somewhere?

    Yes, I was a Gorge observer in the Auld Days, "Multnomah-19".

  7. Kelp Reef buoy off San Juan Island, visible from our house, showed 45 mph wind at 1:00 a.m.

  8. It's always fun reading/watching the storm events come in! I'm in Anacortes. This morning I awoke to a few breaks in the clouds after 20-25 mph winds and rain last night. It's a classic Fall morning. What will November bring??

  9. Sunday morning here in Tacoma and my weather station says in the past 24 hours we're just shy of 1" of rain and had a 23 MPH gust!

  10. This storm was a dud! No heavy rain, nor strong winds except for over the ocean. Typical day in October. All the hype was just that.. hype.

  11. Rivrdog said "What do you think of the accuracy of the "storm total loop" in NOAA's Doppler Radar selections options?"

    I can't speak for Cliff but ...

    I think the answer to that question is one of Cliff's research projects "Rainwatch".

    Building a better area wide rainfall measurement with WX radar using better 2D filtering than NOAA product then finding a better radar to rainfall model then integrating that up and comparing the whole with rain-gauges in real time. Seattle Public Utilities have been sponsoring this research work. And better still UW atmos-sci put it up on a publicly accessible web site.

    You can find the latest data (though everything is from KATX so probably won't help you at your location) at


    but if you check the integrated total(s) for the current storm you can see there are real differences around the coverage area sometimes over rather short distances.

    DJ said: "This storm was a dud! No heavy rain, nor strong winds except for over the ocean. Typical day in October. All the hype was just that.. hype."

    Nope not hype -- skillful forecasting. The storm is turning out the way it was forecast. At no point did anyone say it would be a Big Blow in the Puget Sound. A lot of rain (how often do you see > 40dBz (i.e. light orange) persistent rain in Seattle? Not too often.

  12. When "The Storm" finally leaves the Pacific Northwest, where will it head? Is there a way to track it?

  13. Anyone know when the Smith Island weather station is going to be repaired and back on line?


  14. Cliff, is it common for a low to stall and shift south/southeast, such as this one? It seems most lows don't remain stationary for a time and then shift south.

  15. My husband, deceased June 5 of this year (aged 60) was a weather forecaster up here in British Columbia for years. He was retired but was still doing fire weather forecasting. He loved his job. His name was Daryl. You probably didn't know him though he was well known up here.

    I just found your blog today (Oct 25) and the terminology is so familiar ... though I am clueless for the most part. He would have enjoyed following this system!


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