November 07, 2013

Amazing Satellite Picture of Approaching Storm

You rarely see such beautiful satellite pictures of cyclones approaching the Northwest coast--a beautiful spiral of clouds or water vapor.   See for yourself:  first an infrared image and then a water vapor image.

 You don't have to be much of a meteorologist to know where the low pressure center the middle of the spiral!   From limited buoy reports, it appears that the storm's central pressure is around 992-994 hPa.  Models are forecasting that the low will weaken a bit as it approaches the NW tip of the Olympic peninsula.  Winds will pick up today in western Washington as the low moves eastward across NW Washington.

Let's look at the short-term forecast of the UW WRF model for sea level pressure and sustained wind at 7AM. 991 hPa low center and wind getting to 50 kts (the red colors). Notice where the strong winds are in such a marine cyclone:  to the south and west of the low center.  Meteorologists some times call this the "poisonous tail of the bent-back occlusion"   I love that phrase.  Winds are very weak near the center of the low.

Here is a short-term forecast of the NOAA HRRR model for 10 AM, showing sustained winds (knots).   Sustained at 40-45 kts...with higher gusts, of course. My advice:  I v would not take that Westport of Neah Bay fishing trip today.

After the low passes there will be strong winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca...winds that will be felt over Whidbey Island and into Everett/Mukilteo (see wind forecast for 7 PM).  Guess who will be talking about strong Strait winds tonight in Mukilteo (see below)?  Don't worry...they won't be like the events I will be talking about.


  1. We are at vacationing at Copalis Beach right now (nice cabins at Iron Springs resort) watching the storm center approach on the Langley Hills Radar. Wow. No idea what winds are but they are screaming, driving horizontal rain. A little pond out front is at a Beaufort scale of 7-8 or so right now (blowing foam and streaks...on a small pond!). The ocean, or what we can see of it, is easily Bft 9-10.

    Fun! Fire is going in the wood stove as chaos knocks at the door and the "eye" approaches.

  2. The 8am bike ride in on I-90 was ridiculous! Got hit by a squall which included hail for the 15 minutes it took me to ride across. Here's hoping the ride home is calmer...

  3. I will tell you, Cliff, the storm at the end of September, and the one today, nailed West Seattle.

    Great forecasting.

  4. Can you please comment on how Super Typhoon Haiyan might be affecting Pacific Northwest weather (if at all)?

  5. After spending an hour tonight in abject horror watching the infrared satellite loop of Supertyphoon Haiyan, I feel newly appreciative of our weather.

  6. At what point do these storms we get become a "hurricane"? I never hear of us getting hurricanes here in the PNW, but often see huge systems coming in off the coast.

  7. This morning's long range GFS is currently advertising what appears to be Fraser outflow next weekend!
    Obviously should wait for some model consistency first, we are very far out, but the model shows some rather cold air indeed.

    Maybe something interesting to talk about in class, Cliff!

    We shall see.


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