December 13, 2018

First Major Blow of the Winter

I have gotten a number of complaints from Seattle weather lovers, expressing their frustration at the lack of big winds this fall.  What is a Seattle fall without a big windstorm and power outages?  Well FINALLY, we are going to get some wind, although not the kind of tree feller that cripples the region.

The forecast sea level pressure map for 10 PM tonight shows a fairly strong low pressure system offshore, with a lot of pressure variation (pressure gradient) over the coastal waters--which means strong winds there.

By tomorrow at 1 PM, the low moves into coastal British Columbia, while a strong trough of low pressure, projecting to the south of the low, is about to make landfall on the coast.  At this point, big pressure variations and strong winds are on the Oregon coast.

By 4 PM (0000 UTC) things are really cranking over southwest Washington and southern Puget Sound, as the trough moves to the northeast. Strong winds will be spreading over Puget Sound around that time.

Three hours later (7PM), a large north-south pressure gradient is over western Washington and winds will be sustained 15-25 mph, with higher gusts (30-50 mph).

Here is the forecast wind gusts from the City of Seattle WindWatch (which we developed here at the UW) at 4 PM.  Big gusts over the water (50-60 mph) and 40-50 mph over some land locations.
So can we trust the forecast shown above?  As discussed many times in this blog, to get insights into forecast uncertainty, we examine ensembles of MANY forecasts.  My group at the UW is running one of the largest and highest resolution ensembles in the U.S., and below is a plot of the highest predicted wind gusts over Seattle tomorrow from the high-resolution single forecast shown above, and a collection of ensemble members (these runs were started 4 PM last night).  

Some, but not all, of the simulations show a big acceleration of the winds after 7AM, with a peak around 10 AM.  Others have the big peaks later in the day.   So there is a lot of confidence about big winds tomorrow, but they might be delayed until  later into the afternoon.    The new ensemble will be available this evening.  The National Weather Service wind forecast last night was much less, but they updated their prediction today to include high wind warnings and watches (see graphic below).

Because the trees have not been tested by strong winds this season, expect branches to fly and some power outages.   You might make sure your flashlights have good batteries and your car isn't sitting under vulnerable tree.


  1. Well, better late than never! After a forgettable November I thought Winter would limp along with 40s and 50s and drizzle and it'd suddenly be February with a warmer than normal Spring and Summer predicted. :)


    Today, an important article about the abuse, bullying and intimidation scientists endure for focusing on their science, was published by Judith Curry, one of the most highly respected paleo science and climate change experts.Dr Curry is world famous, has 40 years of outstanding record of research and the highest regard in the academic community.

    UW should be ashamed they have let this happen. What is worse, the administration of UW, the deprtment chair and the Dean were involved in this bullying and anti-science approach. They should apologize at least: or their resignation should be required by the Provost and President.

    Dr. Mass has been the subject of ad hominem attacks, bullying,, intimidation by Dean's Office and by outrageous accusations by faculty in a department where the majority of the faculty have a low understanding of the time scales, global geoscience, and the complexity of the interactions of oceanic long-term processes, geophysical contributions to earth's skin and biogeochemical processes that mediate and impact our atmosphere on timescale beyond the ken of 80% of the atmospheric scientists who model and meddle and muddle.

    Here is the link.

    It shows the deplorable academic bullying by the Chair of Atmospheric Sciences, the reprehensible groupthink behavior of faculty and the appalling and irresponsible behavior of the staff of Dean Graumich of the College of Environment, specifically the Assistant Dean of Diversity. That UW is allowing this to happen is not simply embarrassing, it is the reason to question whether there is any academic integrity and ethical values that the faculty in At Sci and in the Dean's Office can advance.

    I ask you to do two things:

    Read Judith Curry's article and form your own opinion

    Then write to and and

    I am disgusted by the academic bullying, the ad hominem attacks against an outstanding scientist, especially by a postdoc with near-zero expertise in climate science in comparison to a professor with 30 years of excellent scholarship of Professor Mass and the sad behavior of students and the willful disregard of respect by the Chair and the cowed faculty in Atmospheric Sciences. I will not talk about the qualifications of those who throw stones at Mass. I will question their motives which seem to reach beyond the bounds of rigorous, fact-based science.

    This a is a classic case of McCarthyism.... if you don't believe in our ideals, you are the enemy.
    Are you now or have you always been a believer in climate change?
    If not you are a denier, you are the enemy of everything we know: that humans are totally responsible for everything

    A sad end to what used to be a great department as the Chair and his colleagues try to silence the voice of scientific empirical evidence. I say shame to the Department and its Chair, the Assistant Dean and the entire structure that allows this ad hominem attack.

    Please support Cliff Mass. He needs to hear from people who can think as rational scientists who evaluate facts, versus persons who have a single political /social agenda and refuse to look as CLiff does at limited data and then make rational projections based on facts.

    1. Cliff,
      Curious to know: what are the highest cumulonimbus tops you have heard of?
      Thank you

  3. Not a good day to take the dinghy from lummi island to sucia, you may get walloped around like a bottle stopper in a flushing toilet

  4. sojourner truth - Thank you for posting and there can be no more critical a time for all of us - wherever you stand on climate change - to have zero tolerance for this.

    We are all in this together, and we have some really great discussions here. Why? Because Cliff welcomes all sides.

    I am shocked that the UW is tolerating this. Just absolutely stunning.

  5. Great forecasting! This has been (still is) a doozie in the mountains.

  6. Ignore my earlier comment giving this Fall a little credit. The wind looks like a fizzle.

  7. Woke up this morning (Friday) on Bell Hill in Sequim to 61 degrees, wind gusts to the mid 30s, high broken cirrus clouds with plenty of blue and everything bone dry. Local PWS reporting humidity 24% with dewpoint in the low 20's as I write this!!

    Walked the dogs around 7:30am and it felt like a summer morning, except for the wind.

    Reminds me of Chinooks back when I lived near Denver.

    It appears to be a local effect, likely a strong downslope from the Olympics which gave us compressive heating, but WOW, what a treat for this time of year. Short-sleeves and dry in December.

  8. Nice temperature change at Bellingham Airport from warm front to cold front:

    63F @ 7:35am
    49F @ 8:53am

  9. Sad to see the news above about the rancor directed towards Dr. Mass up there. Campus environments, while frequently controversial in the past, seem to have recently become more toxic to free speech (although truth be known OSU did have their George Taylor controversy-a man who brought on his own troubles around his climate change positions). Seeing a member of the science community at UW before the inquisition is disturbing.

    Most of my career was spent at the two state schools here in Oregon and I value those associations still. The chemistry and geology departments where I worked did not suffer this sort of weirdness (yet) but nonetheless I am happy to be retired.

    My best wishes to Dr. Mass.

  10. @ sojourner truth

    As a former undergraduate student (2009 graduate) of the UW Atmospheric Science department, I am quite upset to read about what is currently happening within the department. I was a student in multiple courses taught by Cliff and he was objectively a professor of high quality and integrity. I would hope that upon honest reflection of his recent actions the current Chair of the department (Dale Durran) would feel embarrassed, but that doesn't seem likely to happen from what I just read. I stand behind Cliff on this issue and ask other former and current students of Cliff's to call out the Chair for his ridiculous actions as described in article linked above.

  11. I stand with Dr. Mass who practices tea science and asks the reasonable questions about whether or not sensational media claims about violent weather phenomena are actually related to climate change. Dr. Mass has also demonstrated that he is sensitive to the economics of sweeping energy policy changes. The bullying agitated progressive climate lobby wants high energy costs and increasesd regulation even if it does more harm than good. And they would gladly sacrifice one of our most trusted meteorological voices in Dr. Mass to achieve their ends.

  12. Sadly, my chosen moniker for this blog has become reality, and not a forewarning as intended.

  13. Winds here picked up considerably around 12:30pm and have now, at 13:30, backed off to minor breezes. Light rain has followed. Barometric pressure appears to have bottomed out at 29.40" Hg (we track at our modest elevation, ~ 15 mi. south of Corvallis, around .21" Hg lower than Corvallis Airport). Our barometric pressure started coming back up a little before the airport readings.

  14. sojourner truth said...

    "a department where the majority of the faculty have a low understanding of [atmospheric science]."

    "the reprehensible groupthink behavior of faculty * * * it is the reason to question whether there is any academic integrity and ethical values that the faculty * * * can advance."

    "A sad end to what used to be a great department"

    On its face, these statements are just a lot of nonsense. I have no personal or firsthand knowledge of the relationship between Dr. Mass and his academic colleagues, but making these kinds of statements purportedly on his behalf will only do harm to him.

    One of the problems here is that even though Dr. Mass does not label or describe himself as a climate change denier (he actually does the opposite), he surely attracts many who carry that mantle and regard him as a kindred spirit (perhaps, in their view a closet climate denier). I do not believe such notions are either fair or accurate, yet a number of climate deniers rally around him. Does anyone believe that writing these kinds of letters will in any way help Dr. Mass in any part of the scientific community, including his home institution?

    Once people go down the road of Judith Curry, there is rarely any turning back. When a once respected scientist starts talking about conspiracies, corruption, hiding data, and craziness in reference to her one-time colleagues, there is little possibility of altering the trajectory away from science. Today, most references to Judith Curry are from alternative science sources, which are more than plentiful. But do not mistake plentiful for influential. The problem with almost all would-be Galileo's is that is all that they are: a would-be Galileo. Remember that most of Galileo's battles were about superstition and those who rejected scientific method.

  15. Interesting, took a look around the Internet to read more into this.

    I enjoy Dr. Mass' blog. I also think he does downplay global warming, or at least focuses more time and energy on undercutting arguments for change. That more conservative media outlets are taking this story and running with it should be a hint (see, see, the Left is really anti-science!). What Dr. Mass decides to write about on this blog is his absolute right. It's his blog after all. Since blogs are public it will mean his critics will have more to attack him with though. We've seen meaningful action on this issue stifled for over 20 years and the growing frustration is a byproduct. Looking at U.S. history you can see similar patterns in many other critical areas. For example, early anti-slavery figures were seen by some abolitionists as moderate milksops by the election of 1860.

    People are impatient and are fighting. If you're not actively in that fight or are seen as criticizing how some of the fighters are holding their swords or shields, you can't expect to have a lot of friends in the ranks. That's just the way it is.

    It certainly won't stop me from reading this blog. It's one of the best local blogs we have for weather. Nor do I mind the occasional article underlining the silliness of pinning a particular storm or heat wave on global warming. The University would be foolish to push out Dr. Mass over this.

  16. Port Angeles hit by huge winds warm temps and extreme low humidity. Really weird, amazing day, wind and weather wise. But the forecast missed it. Curious as to why.

  17. Is 3:30pm too early to say this storm is a complete over-hyped bust?

  18. As of 17:00 this wind event is a bust in Port Townsend. Perhaps it's arriving later than originally forecast, but there was hardly a breath of wind today until perhaps an hour ago. Even now it's barely more than what an average late fall day might bring.

  19. This post moves me to ask about an observation I have made over the last few years. As a kayaker, I tend to pay attention to wind forecasts when planning outings. Often we have to make other plans due to the wind forecast, and find ourselves on a hike instead... overlooking perfectly calm waters with no wind anywhere. We call this condition "juked by the weatherman."

    The observation is that the wind forecast seems to worsen the closer it is to the actual time, and the forecast from 2-3 days beforehand was actually more accurate. I'm speaking specifically about the NWS time series graphs of forecast conditions.

    Is this a known effect?

  20. Uncanny how accurate this blog I watch my backyard tent lift off for parts unknown.

  21. Back to the weather.

    Assuming the winds do not pick back up again, this did not turn out to be much of an event near the Bellingham Airport. In fact, the winds were only a bit more than this morning and not as sustained and intense as what we had Wednesday night into Thursday morning:

    We did have the lights flicker 2 or 3 times around 6 pm, so I assume some power lines were affected in the Bellingham area. PSE must have a fair number of outgages in the Puget Sound area as its outage website page is not accessible.

    I see the NWS has extended the High Wind Warning to 10 pm, but I'm not sure why. The NWS Weather and Hazards viewer seems to show more happening to the south, but the forecast seemed to indicate that the most intense activity would be to the south:

    Is this likely to reintensify in this area or is the storm moving in toward the south? It's confusing to me.

  22. I stand with Cliff!

    Besides where would I go to complain about locally inaccurate forcasts.

    Admiralty inlet has had several makor wind events recently. We were without power for 12 hours.

    THIS FeidFr event was a dud, nothing, light rain and a moderate breeze

    Frustrated in the poor forcasts.

    Again, how do we have confidence I future climate prediction, when we can't even get today's weather forecast right?

  23. Wind arrived late in the North Sound. All quite at 4:00 PM I went trail running at the Skagit Valley College. By 4:30 PM winds had started to blow, enough that I wanted to be away from waving trees. By 6:00 PM the lights were flickering. At 8:00 PM we had maximum sustained winds blowing a gale, by 8:30 PM the winds dissipated. I didn't hear any trees snap, I assume we got off light because the leaves had already fallen.

  24. Wind arrived late in the North Sound. All quite at 4:00 PM I went trail running at the Skagit Valley College. By 4:30 PM winds had started to blow, enough that I wanted to be away from waving trees. By 6:00 PM the lights were flickering. At 8:00 PM we had maximum sustained winds blowing a gale, by 8:30 PM the winds dissipated. I didn't hear any trees snap, I assume we got off light because the leaves had already fallen.

  25. Hmmm...I'd be careful of Dr. Curry trying to use this kerfuffle to push her own agenda.
    I see some her material and claims as questionable and not friendly toward AGW science.

  26. @ Sojourner Truth.

    Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention.

    That is simply mind boggling.

    Sounds like sour grapes pushback of the worst kind by those who sought a significant monetary benefit if I-1632 had passed.

    You publically entitled folks really need to take your hand out of my pocket and do your part in reducing your own personal carbon footprints.

    Keep up the good work Cliff of educating the public.

    I thought we where supposed to be free.

    Chris H
    Heli-free North Cascades

  27. For what it is worth, Olympia lost power just after 5:00 PM. Probably will not be back until after midnight. We had some wind but I did not think it was enough to cause the outages in the south sound. Still lots of trees with leaves so that may have been the real issue.

  28. As I reported last night around 8 pm, this did not turn out to be much in Bellingham. I would say it would score as at as a moderate miss on the forecast, considering that the worst of it was supposed to be on the coast and to the north.

    But it looks like the impact to the south was greater, judging by the power outages, and the extension of the wind warning to 10 pm.

    There was a lot of early power loss in the Port Angeles area, but it does not seem to be a result of the main brunt of the storm. Was this a different kind of local effect?

    I would be interested in hearing Cliff's assessment of the quality of the forecast, ensemble or otherwise.

  29. Winds came early in Sequim on Friday, but based on the forecast, we were already thinking wind, just not that soon. NOAA quickly reacted with “look out the window forecasting” and updated the high wind warning back to 8:42a, but by then lights wete flickering.

    We had local outages in morning, up and down, and then Bonneville Power Authority 230kv lines feeding the OlyPen (both lines!) went down hard due to a tower failure by early afternoon, and didn’t come back until 11:30p in Sequim. One of the longest outages in recent memory.

    Thankfully we were already thinking high winds based on the forecast and were prepared, but the 60+ degree temps and ultra dry air of the morning high winds were unusual. The mountain wave off the Olympics wasn’t forecasted. Felt like a Colorado Chinook wind.

  30. Most of the Oregon CoCoRaHS strong wind reports today are from the southern portions of the state especially the coastal regions. There could of course be a sampling bias in these descriptions. One report from Eugene echoed my sense that peak winds were around 1200-1300. Judging from the Washington CoCoRaHS notes winds arrived up there later, say after 1600 and lasted into the night. Several reports of power outages were evident. I would say the storm predictions were about right.

    And by the way I share MAC in Bellingham's caution in interpreting the Judith Curry narrative. We do not know what if anything has been expressed to Dr. Mass from administration powers that be at UW.

  31. The Judith Curry thing somehow reminds me of how we treated folks who were in favor of the Vietnam War back when I was in college and how we treated administrators who stood in our way. Once again the truth is under attack by entrenched interests. But here it is meteorological truth, a science based on observation and data analysis. As a meteorologist I had to train myself to see only what was there in front of me, no more no less, not what I wanted to see. Dr. Mass gets this right every time. (I came to appreciate his skills as an analyst with his Bent-back T-bone Fronts paper.)

  32. Organic Farmer says:

    "Again, how do we have confidence I future climate prediction, when we can't even get today's weather forecast right?"

    If Cliff was inclined, he could answer this very easily, and it wouldn't corroborate your gut hunches in the slightest.

  33. I'm a north of Bellingham and as MAC said, there was by no means a storm here. If anything, it was worse a night or two prior. Did get quite blustery for a bit in the early evening, with flickering lights. I know it was windier elsewhere. But as we all know, it takes very little in the way of a "weather event" to result in power outages in Western WA. Never changes.

  34. MAC in Bellingham -

    You wrote: “Once people go down the road of Judith Curry, there is rarely any turning back. When a once respected scientist starts talking about conspiracies, corruption, hiding data, and craziness in reference to her one-time colleagues, there is little possibility of altering the trajectory away from science.

    The preface to her post said this: “In preparing this article, I have received material from a member of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. I also ran into another member of the Department while at the AGU meeting this week, who corroborated these events. I conducted a 30 minute phone interview with Cliff Mass.”

    She then goes on to talk about the bullying of a scientist, by fellow scientists and others within academia, at a public university based on that material. Are you calling her a liar? What in her post about Cliff Mass was false, and please let us know how you know it (like she did). I would really like to know.

  35. Yes, Sojourner Truth, it is sad that everything has become politicized including science. While I place myself on the left, I say that "while it is good to have an open mind, it should not be so open that your brains fall out"!

    While my impression is that some of the changes that we are seeing are probably related to climate change, such as more fires and slightly longer summers and milder winters, it does not mean that just any initiative dealing with climate is automatically good. I think Cliff's main objection to 1631 was that it impacts the poor and lower middle class hardest. I voted for it but I had to hold my nose, as I did not like the way it was written. The left needs to remember that we need a fair tax system, as I have said before. This state has an already regressive tax structure and 1631 would have made it worse.

    Cliff, a suggestion for you: Write another initiative with your knowledge of weather AND social justice, and try to get it on the ballot next time around.

  36. A couple of 42 mph gusts between about 4:45PM and 6PM 1.5 mi SW of KBLI

  37. I'm in Bellingham and this was a hearty windstorm for me, both near Ferndale and on Alabama hill. Power outages all around on the PSE outage map. Some outages over several hours long. So, very much felt in my neck of the woods.

  38. For those denigrating Dr. Curry's work, you have to also feel similarly regarding Dr. Richard Lidzen (of MIT redoubt). His findings and subsequent questioning of the current AGW dogma pushed him smack dab into the witch hunt for anyone daring to hold a contrary viewpoint. Additionally, please keep in mind that Lidzen is considered to be one of the fathers of the climatology field in general, so his analysis cannot be so easily dismissed, although many lesser lights have strenuously attempted to do so.

  39. I recommend watching the video of the Edmonds ferry in the storm on KOMO, impressive. I'm thinking Wa State Ferry system might want to watch these forecasts more closely in the future.

  40. Not so for me, Mac. Lots of wind for me in 2 Whatcom County locations. Ferndale and Alabama Hill, broken branches on my fence line and lots of power out near Alabama hill/Lake Whatcom area.

  41. Its not necessary to characterize Dr. Curry as a liar to have reservations about the blog post. I was surprised when I poked around to see her controversial positions plainly evident. She clearly sees the academic environment as politicized and essentially aligned against her stands on climate change. Its why I feel cautious interpreting a blog post from such a motivated individual possibly eager to document from elsewhere similar (perhaps more perceived) treatment to hers. And since Dr. Mass wisely has not made any public statements I have seen its best not to make any assumptions about what has transpired in private UW conversations. His treatment in the some of the press up there is enough to generate my sympathy.

    And certainly disturbing trends especially around speech are manifest in some contemporary campus environments. I sometimes wondered if we were going to have to issue trigger warnings for chemistry safety training (fortunately never happened). Again it was good to retire when I did.

    Dr. Curry reminds me even more about the George Taylor saga at OSU a decade ago. He espoused similar positions albeit on a more local, state level (she has testified before Congress). Aside from the climate debate he did a good job and I was a little sad when he left. His "Oregon Climate Service" web page went with him. And like her after retirement he formed his own consulting service.

  42. jimijr
    "As a meteorologist I had to train myself to see only what was there in front of me, no more no less, not what I wanted to see. Dr. Mass gets this right every time."

    Bias can come from picking and choosing what we look at. I agree that Cliff is better than most (which is why I like his blog so much), but nobody's perfect.

  43. Eric Blair - In order for you, me or most anyone here to "denigrate" anyones work we first need to possess a functional skill that matches their own.

    You follow?

    Yes of course you do, because you and I have that much actual experience with the limits of human cognitive ability, and we can read about how that cognitive ability has been tested, which substantially supports the above first sentence.

    When it comes to climate science, no one not possessing the skill of Curry or Linzen has neither the practical experience to validate whatever they say (nor Cliff Mass, for that matter) and no amount of reading will change that.

    What we can do - that is, all and every person who is functionally lacking the skills of validation for climate science, essentially 99% of most Blog followers here - is simply ask this:

    What do their peers think of their work? Do they respect or "denigrate" their work? Is there a measurable consensus?

    No one should really be surprised at this. It is essentially how we place our trust in damn near any opinion, wherever their is an institutional knowledge culture, such as flying a jet aircraft. We don'y trust our own incompetent speculations and we prefer not to invest in only one experts opinion. We want to know what the consensus of their peers thinks about what it takes to fly inside a cloud.

    So no matter how much you "like" Curry or Lindzen's work, thats all it is - a like, not really much more reliable than any "Like" on Facebook.

    Again, if you doubt my words, I can only invite you to google "Cognitive psychology" and enjoy what remains of the Christmas Holidays blowing your mind!


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

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