October 25, 2014

Windstorm Update: Going to be Worse than Expected

It is going to be pretty wild in Husky Stadium tonight...and I am not talking about the drinking and partying at the tailgate festivities.  Western Washington is going to experience a serious windstorm as as a strong low center approaches western Washington from the south and moves northwestward across the Olympics.  And it is bit stronger than our model forecasts indicated yesterday.

First, the latest Langley Hill radar image.  My god...you can see the swirl of the precipitation band around the low center (low center is marked by L).   Little doubt where it is..a great aid to forecasters... and a reminder of the positive impacts of Senator Cantwell's work to secure this radar for us in 2009.

Buoy 29 is positioned right off he mouth of the Columbia River (see map)

The winds at that buoy are gusting to nearly 55 knots (63 mph) right now.

 And here is the pressure/wind trace: pressure dropped below 984 hPa there.

The UW WRF forecast for 2PM shows the low center, but the lowest pressure is only 984 hPa.  The buoy did not pass through the storm's center and thus the central pressure of the low must be somewhat deeper than forecast. Another buoy farther offshore (46089) had its pressure drop to 982.8 hPa and it was clearly west of the low.  So there is a good chance we are dealing with a storm around 980 hPa.

This low system is more consolidated and better formed than earlier predictions and, as I have noted, the central pressure is lower.  Thus, the impacts will be enhanced as it moves northward.

The National Weather Service issued a High Wind Warning around noon:

That means they are fairly sure we will have a big wind event.

And the latest NOAA/NWS High Resolution Rapid Refresh wind forecasts for 8 PM (0300 UTC)  and 11 PM say it all.  Gusts of 20-50 mph.

The Portland area has already experienced many power outages (see below)

I don't want to hype this.  We will see gusts of 30-50 mph and because the leaves are on the trees we are more vulnerable.  But this is NOT going to be like the Columbus Day, Inauguration Day, or Chanukah Eve storms.  But you might go to sleep with a flashlight.

So if you are going to the Husky game, watching Don Giovanni go to hell at Seattle Opera, or any other activity tonight, be watchful outside... particularly for falling trees and power lines.


  1. Looks like fun! Thanks for the detailed info!

  2. We've battened down the hatches on our little sailboat in Tacoma. Any guess when the worst will be over?

  3. The Storm pinned the barometer at our Key Peninsula location at 990. Pretty much the lowest I remember seeing.

  4. East Bellevue clocked a 51 mph SSW gust on a professional weather station (Phantom Lake ES Schoolnet Weather)... that's 0.5 miles from our house. A neighbor's maple tree is down on their kitchen roof but no people hurt. There are so many branches down that it smells like Christmas. A big tree is in the roadway on 156th Ave NE at Crossroads (NE 10th St) but they have flares there... tons of big branches in the roads with no warning at all. Amazingly, we still have power. We took our chances at Bella Bottega in Redmond tonight and the power flickered so many times that they gave us free movie tickets for next time. :-) Thanks for keeping us up to date, Cliff, and I too am really glad for the Langley radar, which let us see this thing coming.

  5. It wasn't too bad in the Sumner area. We certainly had steady wind for a while, but nothing to write home about - and it largely dropped to "breezy" by 10pm Saturday.

    Nice to have one of these wind events miss our little corner of the Sound for once!

  6. Power outages in Redmond/Woodinville area on Saturday night and Sunday.

    As of now, very strong rain.

  7. Low barometer on Marrowstone Island Saturday night, but no wind. Haven't seen anything over 10 mph. here. In a SW wind the Olympics block it pretty well.

  8. Down here in Lakewood it was pretty much a non-event. I don't think the wind ever hit 30 mph. We'll probably get smacked the next time we have a windstorm.
    As always, thanks for the great information, Cliff. You are The Man (Weather Man, that is.)

  9. Duvall is completely off the grid right now. Whatever light there is, is either from vehicles, people with generator power (like me), or candles. A lot of Woodinville is the same, as well as parts of Redmond. Wound up doing a tour of the area while doing a couple gas runs for the generator earlier today. We did have the heavy rain around 2:15-2:30 pm.

  10. Cliff,
    You need to introduce yourself to Coach Peterson. Here is one of his comments after the game - “I think the wind really surprised us. We started hearing reports coming in last night.
    Are you kidding? Here he has a great weather forecasting asset at his call and he is 'surprised by the weather'? Totally unacceptable.


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

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