November 09, 2020

Potential for a Major Storm on Friday Night/Saturday Morning

I will have an update on the storm and a HUGE dump of snow in the mountains at 1 PM today (Wednesday).

I try never to get too excited about a storm when it is more than 120 hr out....and certainly never to discuss in this blog.

But we are close enough now to talk about the possibility of a fairly major blow on Friday night and Saturday morning.

This morning's run of the National Weather Service's GFS model is, how do I say it? Provocative.

It forecasts a 966 hPa low pressure center to be off the northern tip of Vancouver Island, with an INTENSE pressure gradient (pressure change divided by distance) to the west and southwest.  That kind of pressure gradient would be associated with very strong winds (50-70 mph at least) plus big waves.  And we don't get 960 hPa low centers just offshore very often.  They usually stay in the Gulf of Alaska.

And as the low passes across Vancouver  Island, western Washington gets a piece of the action, with a very large north-south pressure difference that would bring strong winds across the entire area.  Power failures would be widespread.

I know what you are about to ask.  What is the vaunted European Center model predicting?  (see below). A strong storm, but farther south and a big weaker.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding this storm, so let's wait until Wednesday before getting our hopes up.  The NOAA global ensemble system, which runs the global model many times, is showing a lot of uncertainly (see below), but plenty of solutions are going for big winds (the graphics is for sustained wind speed and not gusts at Forks, on the WA coast).

This is a very difficult forecast depending on getting not only the intensity of the storm right, but its exact path.    In two days we will have a far better idea of what is going to happen.

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  1. The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 was measured at 958...wind gusts hit 100+mph...this storm is gonna be a contender, at 966!!!

    1. It's not the pressure at the center of the low alone that causes wind storms - there are many other factors as well.

    2. I was in Seattle and remember it well! Very scary

    3. Understood...but it is a serious factor.

  2. Just in time to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Galloping Gertie collapse!

  3. Cliff, none my three weather forecasting go-to websites (Weather channel, Weather Underground, Weather Bug) are forecasting this event. This is one time I hope you are wrong. The Columbus Day storm was an unmitigated nightmare.

  4. Boy, I just love your attitude, Cliff. Funny how we can get so excited about these things. I grew up in Florida. I got the storm-bug from my mom who grew up in South Florida. It's really the same as marveling at a spider web or ice crystals poking up through the soil this time of year. Just hope for low destruction on the human level. I remember seeing five or six waterspouts at one time cruising across the ocean surface from Lake Worth as a boy. Spectacular.

  5. There was a similar big wind storm about the same time of year, November 16, back in 1991, which I recall because trees were getting blown over during my 30th birthday party, nearly landing on my guests' cars.

  6. During the onset of COVID-19 we had less oceanic data points due to fewer ships and aircraft. How are we doing now? Is the forecasting of this storm suffering from the problem of too few initial conditions in the Northern Pacific?

  7. And, it will be Friday the 13th!

  8. What direction would we expect for the high winds in the Seattle area?

  9. I'm glad I'm getting groceries on Wednesday

  10. Unlike some parts of the country, November is definitely a winter month here. Winter is Nov. to late February. Ironic, but as I have said before it is an asymmetrical temperature curve. The peak of summer is later than most places, but the bottom of winter is earlier than most places.


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