January 24, 2012

The Bermuda Triangle of Northwest Weather

Some things are beyond scientific understanding.  Weather phenomena that can not be explained by forecast models and high-tech observations. Occurrences that are known by local meteorologists but are rarely spoken about in public.  Perhaps the best-known example:  the Napavine Triangle.

Napavine is located  in southwest Washington, between Olympia and Portland--a few miles south of Chehalis (see graphic).  A closer look at the terrain reveals a triangular valley (second map).  A valley with extreme and often bizarre weather.

The nearly perfect triangular shape of the valley is suggestive of supernatural influences.

 Doubtful?  You won't be in a few minutes.  During the snows last week, which low-level (below 500 ft) location got more snow than any other in western Washington?  Napavine with 25.5 inches.  Here is a picture of what things looked like on the ground:

Picture courtesy of http://napavineweather.info/wordpress/

And where was the only place in western Washington to be hit by a tornado last year?
You guessed it. Napavine.  Here is a small sample of the damage:

And in 2007 and 2009 what town, located next to a major river, experienced flooding that closed the nearby Interstate for days?  Yes, you guessed it, Napavine.

And during the extreme heat wave of July 29, 2009 where was the warmest temperatures in western Washington? Locations rising to 110 or 114F.  Yes, the Napavine triangle (see graphic located here for proof).

I could give you a long list of other examples of natural disasters in the scary Napavine triangle, but you get the message. 

And did I tell you about the Bigfoot sightings/evidence in Napavine?  Yes, it is true...here is the proof:  http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com/2011/09/recent-sighting-report-woman-finds.html

The motto of the town is "Welcome to Napavine, for a day or a lifetime."  You better keep your eye on the sky (and the forest) if you want to do either.

     But as long as I am talking about the bizarre, I just learned of a new weather threat here in the Northwest (kudos to Dr. Brad Smull).  Burial by sand.  I AM NOT KIDDING.  Last week, there were sustained extremely strong winds along the Oregon coast, as a huge pressure gradient was maintained between high pressure over California and the low pressure systems moving eastward near the WA/OR border.   Here are the sustained winds at Newport and North Bend, Oregon (as well as Sea Tac thrown in for comparison) for the past two weeks.  One major wind event after another along the coast!  Gust were much higher.

 In some coastal towns large amounts of sand was blown by this strong winds, burying homes nearly completely.  Consider what happened in Waldport (see map),

or what is left of it.  Look at these amazing pictures by Jason Durrett:

A news video is found here. Here are a few others I found on the web:

Now those houses are basically gone!  Perhaps they will be unburied in a future age, like the buried pyramids of Giza.

PS:  A few of you have complained that I sometimes edit my blogs after I release them.  Folks..this is my style.  I write this blogs fast and then like to go back and perfect them, sometimes based on your comments.  I don't want to have multiple blogs each day, except during big storms.  Others complain that they don't like me talking about education during 1 in a few dozen blogs.  This is my personal blog, please allow me to deal with it in my own way.  There are many other weather blogs, they may be a better fit for some.


  1. Truly weird. I'm sur Bigfoot is somehow involved in this weirdness.

  2. I'm curious about what criteria were used to establish Napavine as getting the most snow in last week's storms. I live at 700 feet a few miles southwest of Olympia, and I measured a total of 33 inches.

  3. Paul,
    Only locations below 500 ft count!..cliff

  4. Cliff,

    Another Napavine stat: the temperature soared past 110F during the historic heat wave of 2009. Locals says it was the hottest of the hot!

  5. Question: wasn't the Waldport sandstorm a year ago, not last week?

  6. Probably one of the strangest weather periods in awhile. It's currently snowing (about 10" in the last 4 hours) where we live and raining in the passes. What a winter!

    Personally, I'm happy to get your perspective on education as much as the weather, they both seem to go hand in hand.

  7. Hey Cliff - keep doing what you're doing. As you said, it's your blog! Plus, you'll never satisfy everyone no matter what you do or don't do. If you only write those things to which no one could object, this blog would probably become significantly less interesting.

  8. Cliff, I've been reading you for a few years now, but this is my first comment.

    This is your blog, so do whatever you like with it, IMHO. I really enjoy your style, and truly appreciate your efforts.

    Thanks very much. Really.

  9. last i checked this blog is cliffmass.blogspot.com, not cliffmassweatheronlyallthetimeandmoreduringstorms.blogspot.com (thankfully).

  10. Please keep posting about math and science education. You're inspiring and informing many people like me to take action in our local schools and also vote accordingly.

  11. Houses buried by sand, I love this blog!

  12. Cliff--

    Count me as another one of those readers that say write about whatever you want to write about!

    I was very interested and touched by what you wrote about your missing dog last week, and the efforts that you and others are making to track and find your pooch.

    I hope you and your pack mate are reunited SOON!

  13. FfWIW, I appreciate both your posts about weather and about education. You provide a valuable perspective, since you see former SPS students at the university level - real world examples of what doesn't work. So, thanks!

  14. Cliff - those pictures of houses buried in sand. Are you sure that is sand? Because it looks remarkably like what I've seen at my house sometimes when we have a snow event. We live in a prairie surrounded by farm fields. If we get snow and then it gets cold and dry enough, and then if it gets real windy and we have some nearby plowed fields....we get this strange ugly big drifts of snow covered with a fine layer of frozen dirt blown up from the fields. I always call it "moonscaping." Anyways, some of those pictures looked to me like blown drifts of snow that were then covered with a layer of sand. But I love your blog!

  15. I totally applaud what you said about education - it needs to be said - it needs to be said loudly and by enough people so that there is a response that makes sense......and you said it well....

    (You can post this or not as you like.....it is just to document some are heartily approving that you input on education, being, after all, an academe.)

  16. I LOVE your blog- I am a third generation native Oregonian and you have helped make the weather here more interesting *and* entertaining (if you can believe it). I also feel much more informed about our weather, especially after I read your wonderful book. Your blog, your style is fine by me. Thank you!

  17. WOW! I love this blog. It's these interesting facts about our local weather phenomena that I love so much. We live in such a cool place. So far I enjoy everything you've written on this blog. And my heart hurts for you every time I see the picture of Leah. I hope you find her soon! Keep up the great writing. My coworkers depend on your blog during these wild weather events here in Bremerton.

  18. Cliff, I love your blog and appreciate your thoughts on education, especially math. As a parent with a child in public school I am appalled by what passes for math education. Don't change a thing.

  19. Cliff, I enjoy the blog and read it daily (often times more than daily). It's your blog - write what you want to write about. Sometimes I may not agree - but so what? It'd be a boring world with no new ideas if we all agreed all the time.

  20. We live on the base of that triangle. In the mid nineties one Easter morning one family member saw this as it happened. My wife and I did not see it, and more interestingly did not hear it. An isolated wind event, I am betting some sort of twistry, took half the roof or our mobile, large shop, blew some siding off mobile, lifted one end of green house out of the ground, and blew the plastic off. We got a few thousand from our insurance company. Should anyone want I could nail it down to apprx time of morning as well as day and year.

  21. do your thing cliff, don't sweat the haters! :)

  22. Hey Cliff,
    Looks like you have already received plenty of affirmations today but I will throw my 2 cents in anyway. I own a nursery in Mill Creek (www.mygardennursery.com) and I am a lifelong weather geek and I LOVE your blog.Keep up your wonderful work. It truly is a treasure! Thank you thank you!

  23. Hi Cliff. I've been a lurker here since Mark Nelsen of KPTV in Portland turned me on to your blog. I came out of lurkerhood to tell you that you've got every right to do whatever you want with your blog. I like the bits about your dog and education. It makes it more personal and interesting.

    Fascinating post, BTW. Now I"m going to be wondering what the weather's doing every day in Napavine.

  24. I never voted in a school board election before this last one because I never felt like I was well enough informed to make an intelligent vote. This time was different, thanks largely to your blog. I greatly appreciate your informative words on science education, and I'm sorry they won't let you talk about that topic on KPLU. I'm on the faculty at UW, and agree completely with your assessment of UW admissions and I'm happy you are speaking out about it.

  25. "There are many other weather blogs, they may be a better fit for some."

    I like you just the way you arrrrreee.... (isn't that a James Taylor song or something? Not sure. Anyway, ITA.

    Those sand burials are amazing! I haven't even heard of them. Just wow.

  26. Of course it's your blog and you can do whatever you like with it, but most bloggers do adopt a universal standard by which they let their readers know what changes have been made in order to preserve a sense of joirnalistic integrity. Using strikeout to show what has been changed and using "edited to add" to indicate larger additions is pretty standard. However, go nuts fixing typos with abandon. But again, it's your blog and by no means do you have an obligation.

  27. The Oregon Sand Dunes are constantly shifting. One may own the property beneath them, but the dunes on top do not belong to the property owner. This becomes a huge issue when ATVing on the Dunes. One can trespass by riding on a dune that shifted overnight from one property line to the next. Many of the residents on the Dunes are constantly annoyed by the ATVs. They take trespass very seriously

  28. Presumably these natural events have an ancient history. Local native legends often provide interesting story explanations. It seems like the kind of area ripe for this sort of legend development. Wondering if any of you or any of your readers would know? Recognize this is a sidebar, but interested.

    Do what you want with your blog posts. During big weather events you are going to get extra readers that show up like gawkers at an accident who have little helpful to contribute. They insist on behaving as if you have some obligation to provide them with something they want. You don't. And the beauty of the blog is you can remove their comments. You may develop some standard statement to insert. You shouldn't have to reinvent it each time, but seems likely to be a chronic issue so a repetitive standard disclaimer potentially less work for you.....just a thought.

    Love your blog and how it IS yours and about your interests. Fine with me.

  29. Love what you do Cliff, and feel very fortunate to be able to follow your blog.

    Like Mom said, you can only please some of the people some of the time, you can never please all of the people all of the time.

    Sand burying houses, holy smokes. First I heard of this! Thanks for the pictures!

  30. Driving into Bothell is the same slogan on asign "Welcome to Bothell, for a day or a lifetime."

  31. People criticise what YOU choose to write about in YOUR own blog? Amazing arrogance. Good reply.

  32. Keep up all your work on education and your blog is a very good tool. You know when your making progress, people think and you get feedback. That is how the game is played. I come from a time that we were making a lot of engineers. Class of 1961 Federal Way HS and we had no fluff. The results are in and they are very positive. Thank you for your work on all the projects.
    PS: You eat some of the honey I produce :-)

  33. Well Cliff, I'm a bit irritated with you... First, What gives with the font? I except nothing less than Times New Roman.... i mean who do you think you are using a font that i don't like on your blog. And the background picture.. atrocious!... Have you no sense of my taste?

    What about talking about thigs other than weather?... I mean, who do you think you are talking about education? Just because you are are a teacher/professor/ academic/ scientist in an establishment of higher learning doesn't give you the right to force your opinion on me from your personal biog! I mean, i look at this thing every day and i refuse to be educated about things that i already have a pre conceived opinions on by someone who knows much more than i do about the subject. And what's wrong with you... Changing your opinion about something (like weather) based on new and better information? Sounds suspiciously flip floppy to me! Have you no spine sir?

    How dare you have an educated opinion and express it on your personal blog.
    I come here at LEAST once a day and will not stand for it.

  34. I love your blog with all the technical details and graphs, edits for perfection, and especially the topics on improving K-12 education in Washington. Keep up the great work!

  35. You're right. What you talk about is 95% weather, so sprinkling in some views on education and other topics is still fine with me. I accept that this is a personal blog and not the NWS. You can use your hit-meter to gauge the effect of discussion of non-weather topics on your readership. My guess is at the current level, it will likely be positive.

    As far as downstream edits to the blog, the practice may create confusion for some, and for the paranoid, it may seem malevolent, so you might consider making a notation when you make substantive alterations. (Correcting typos and obvious errors wouldn't require that.)

  36. Hey, I love your education comments. As a High School engineering teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, I find your point of view refreshing.

  37. Great post, Cliff...Loved it, as did my 7 year old budding scientist son! Anna

  38. People who complain about the range of material covered on a blog do not understand the nature of blogs.

    Keep up the good work! I appreciate the free service!


  39. First of all: Fox 12 weather frames suck when reading this and I had to copy the link JUST to be able to load the comment form.

    Silverton Oregon is also has a weird opposite effect from Portland Oregon.

    There are too many examples to say on here but to start off last summer we had lots of afternoon sunshine while Portland bloggers were complaining of how constantly cloudy it was.

    I tried to explain to them it's sunny here but they wouldn't listen. :p

    There are times where we have had snow and the valley/Portland gets a dusting at best and times where its the other way around.

    The last decade it's been impossible to have a uniformed snow event. Even during 2008.

  40. Maybe I should start my own blog about the strange climate of Silverton Oregon.

  41. Hey Cliff, I sometimes have to edit posts after they're published because what I thought I wrote turned out not to be what was actually published. I always say, if my blog starts to generate a revenue stream, the first thing I'm going to do is hire a copy editor!

    And don't let the haters get to you. I stray from the subject of motor scooters occasionally because it brings new viewers, and because there are things that need to be said. Like your post about the UW, which I think is true of universities generally (in fact, based on what I see in the coffee shop where I write this you are being generous). It is indeed your blog, and those who don't like its content have much else from which to choose.

    Your blog is interesting and helpful, keep it up!

    Scootin' Old Skool

  42. Your blogs are a great help. I'm sorry you have to justify your edits or worry about your editorial comments. People can be odd in their expectations! Thanks for your personal and public service.

  43. Cliff- your blog is awesome. Dont change anything.

  44. Hi Cliff,

    As somebody who disagreed with you in a previous comment section, I'd like to agree that it's your blog, and you have the right to talk about whatever you want to talk about. Anybody who tries to control or limit your content is barking up the wrong tree. And your thoughts on education are just as valid as your thoughts on weather - you're in a position to know about both.

    I will quibble with your comment about editing. People aren't criticizing your ability to edit posts. Of course people edit posts, to improve them, to add, to fix errors. But it's a best practice to note those somehow, either with strikethroughs or just a note at the end mentioning what was changed, for a few reasons:
    - People may have responded to the original post, and their comments may not make sense later

    - It makes people comfortable that you're not trying to cover your tracks if there's a contentious argument or debate (like claiming you never said something)

    - People who read the original post can quickly realize that there have been changes and can identify what to reread to get caught up

    Obviously it's your blog, but calling out edits is a great service for your readers and considered best practice across many blogs.

    Great pictures of the sand drifts, by the way, and I hope the commenter above is right that that's snow with a covering of sand. Otherwise I feel bad for the people who have to dig out from that ...

  45. outstanding piece Cliff...thank you!

  46. You don't ACTUALLY think it's 'supernatural' do you... that would be sorely, sorely disappointing. I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned this (unless you're editing them). Surely you understand that lack of current scientific knowledge doesn't mean it's 'beyond' scientific knowledge. As a hero of mine, I certainly hope that was satirical, but it was hard to tell.

  47. Cliff, We had very strong winds in Port Angeles last night. Could you comment on the system that brought them down the Strait?

    Anne Murray

  48. I thoroughly enjoy your blog, including the education posts - even though I don't live in Seattle. Keep up the good work.

  49. The amazing thing about the sand that covered the houses in Bayshore was that it was blown while it was pouring rain most of the time. Just think what would have happened if it had been dry and much lighter! People who live there are nuts. If the sand doesn't bury them, the inevitable tsunami will wipe them off the face of the earth. Just another reason that I would never live next to the ocean even though I am in Newport just north of there. In the summer it is blowing north winds and foggy next to the beach most of the time while my house just a mile inland is sunny and much warmer.

  50. Cliff: I read your blog for updated forecasts, analysis of current weather, and comments on other topics. So I suggest you make a couple of changes to your blog's subtitle to better reflect its content:
    "This blog provides updated forecasts, analysis of current weather, and comments on other topics."

    And I support your intent to write what you want to say . . . and revise it as often as is necessary!

  51. Wow...the photos of those homes nearly buried in Oregon are amazing. Never seen anything quite like it.

    The weather phenomena in Napavine is something to obviously keep an eye on in the future - very interesting. I also read the link about the Sasquatch sightings and happenings in Napavine. I'd not ever given much though as to whether these creatures actually exist. Have to admit, though, that the part about the mice parts wrapped in grass made me feel a little queasy (eeuw!). However, there was another story on the same page of the link titled, "I was kidnapped by Sasquatch," and this is one of the best stories I've read in awhile. True or not, it's still a great story.

  52. Waldport. The wise man built his house upon the rock, the foolish man built his house upon the sand (i.e., shoreline, coast, etc.) The taxpayer will somehow get dinged with helping to bail these folks out, where upon they will learn their lesson and relocate to Napavine. Oppps.

  53. You have a great blog, so keep on keepin' on.

  54. Pretty neat Napavine factoids there Cliff, thanks.

    And I never understand the people who come to blogs and write about everything they don't like. A much simpler solution is to just not read any blog that one can't handle.

    BTW, how does one pronounce Napavine?

  55. I love your blog! Don't change a thing about how your write it!

  56. Hi Cliff

    This post is so dead on. I live in Portland but I'm from Seattle and make the drive at least once a month or more for the past 4 years. I've always called the area around chehalis and Centralia the bermuda triangle for weather and for car accidents! I was driving to seattle the day the tornado hit napavine and it was the WORST driving conditions I've ever been in. I grew up driving hwy 18 and all of the mtn passes and it truly was awful. In fact I witnessed a car accident that day around napavine. I am always really aware of the weather in this area as when seattle and/or pdx is getting hit with something I know this area is going to be worse.

    I love NW weather and I love your blog!

  57. Hey Cliff,

    Thanks for the mention for the picture. This is the first I have heard of the "Napavine Triangle", but I think it fits.


  58. I didn't know where to post this, so I thought that this comments section would be as good a place as any.

    Has anyone here heard of the strange sounds in the sky phenomena that's been happening around the world for about the last five weeks or so? I stumbled upon this issue last week, and though I'm skeptical, it's also really interesting, and I wonder if it's caused by some sort of atmospheric disturbance. Many of the reported claims of sounds (and some claims are faked) are of a trumpet-like sound, or metalic scraping-like sound from the sky. It's kind of creepy, but hopefully there's a logical explanation.

    A google search can be done to find the many youtube videos from around the world on this topic, or there's a link to a good unbiased site that I found here:



Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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