October 21, 2021

The Strongest Storm in Northwest History Could Reach Our Coastal Waters On Sunday

(Note:  I will have a new blog and podcast by 1 PM...waiting on new model guidance for the storm)
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On Sunday, the most powerful storm in Northwest history, with the lowest central pressure ever observed in our region, will approach our coast.


There are still uncertainties with its track...as well as its impacts on the region. But there is now little doubt that an extraordinary event is in store, as unusual as the June heatwave. This blog will fill you in on the details.

The Current Offshore Storm


The offshore storm today was one of the strongest on record, with the sea level pressure in its center dropping to around 951 hPa-- in the range of a category three hurricane.

I have studied such intense midlatitude cyclones (low-pressure areas) for years, and the lowest central pressure in the historical record off our coast is 950 hPa.

The satellite image this morning shows an impressive storm, with clouds swirling into the low center. And a front is about to make landfall on our coast, resulting in substantial precipitation over land.


As predicted,  this storm produced extreme winds along the coast of Vancouver Island, including 100 mph at Solander Island on the north coast (see a map of winds at 9 AM, gusts are in red).  Only 40-50 mph gusts along the Washington coast.


The Monster Storm on Sunday

What is predicted for Sunday is a different animal....a far more powerful and dangerous one.  An unprecedented animal. And an animal whose moves are still somewhat uncertain, unlike the last storm, which proved to be highly predictable and stable.

Below is the forecast sea-level pressure on Sunday at 11 AM  by the U.S. GFS model.  

I could not believe my eyes when I saw this.  942 hPa central pressure.  Never has a storm with such low pressure moved this far south to the waters immediately offshore of the Pacific Northwest.  Not even the 1962 Columbus Day Storm (which was only 955 hPa)


The European Center model, the best in the world, has a very similar solution, but with slightly higher pressure (944 hPa).  Just stunning.


Further confidence is provided by the ensemble forecasts, in which each of these models is run many times, starting with slightly different conditions.  The solution is robust.

We are going to have a record-breaking monster storm off our coast...the most intense in the historical record.

But the winds on land will be controlled by the storm's path and changes in storm strength over time.  Both the U.S. and European models have this system weakening as it approaches land, but the tracks are different.

The GFS model is much more threatening, with the low center moving across the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  Here is the forecast for Monday at 5 PM from the UW model, which is driven by the U.S. GFS model.  A 973 hPa low making landfall, with large pressure differences along the coast.


The result would be a significant windstorm for the region, with strong winds, gusting to 60-70 mph along the coast and 30-40 mph gusts in the interior.   The European Center prediction takes the storm further north (see below), greatly reducing impacts on the Northwest.


As a general rule, I would bet on the European Center model, which suggests that we won't get a major blow in the interior. But with such a strong storm and so much uncertainty, my colleagues and I will have to watch developments carefully.  By tomorrow, we should have a reliable track for the storm, so keep tuned.
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An Important Message for Seattle Voters

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The Second Edition of My Northwest Weather Book is Now Available!

My new book is greatly improved and expanded over the first edition, with new chapters on the meteorology of Northwest wildfires and the weather of British Columbia.  A completely revamped chapter on the effects of global warming on our region.  And it has been brought up to date with recent weather events and the imagery is improved greatly.
 

Where can you get it?

Local bookstores, such as the University of Washington bookstore.  The UW Bookstore has just received several dozen copies.

Or secure a copy from the publisher:  UW Press.

Or Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park or Seattle.

And yes, there are online sellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.



















34 comments:

  1. Cliff.... have there been any studies on the sudden drop in carbon emissions last year due to the pandemic that may have caused instability in the atmosphere, in turn contributing to our region's weather patterns?? I have been curious about this having an effect versus if it were a gradual drop. Any info on this?

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    1. https://gml.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/ There is no drop in co2 ppm according to this.

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    2. like every other storm in the northwest....wait and see, but don't panic and please, don't empty the shelves in the stores. Always have a backup plan and and just be prepared.

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    3. No but out earth has slowed its spin thats why days are seeming shorter. There is also a anomaly in south america and the magnetic field there. We have also had a long sleep from the sun which recently woke up with a solar burst. Corona means sun and symptoms of covid are that just like rafiation sickness that astronauts get before they go to space. By march 2022, the earth is going into a major energy shift and there will be a higher level of conciousness for everyone but if our shit isnt balanced amomg us humans then we out of luck and then the creator will do onto the earth as he plans to do with it as he has done before. If the earth is 4 billion years old they say. Just think of things that are lost or hiden not just on land but the ocean is another planet right here on earth and holds the secrets of the universe. Our minds our powerful and so is sound and frequency vibratuons like tesla says. 369 rule its real and explains a lot of the unexplainable but egos of scientists wont ever study every idea instead of fighting anout whos right or wrong when it comes to proof of our exsistance of everything here. Greed takes this world deeper instead of working with eachothers minds to create the impossble. If they built pyrimids in ancient times then we doing something wrong today. greedy shithonian museum is one who has information hidden from humanity because god forbid they would have to print all new text books for history classes across the world. Too much trouble. My whole life was a lie and there should be things taught that are more revelent to the future. Anyhoot......

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    4. I hope I'm responding to that freaking mind-blowing thing I just read about the vibrations in the sun's Corona and all that life was a lie that Virgo is mind-blowing whoever that Anonymous was which I'm sure is a Virgo I got a lot to think about living the LIE no more

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    5. The earth doesn't spin for 1. Walk outside and look around. What do your senses tell ya? That's part of the things that have been "hidden". Old historical books even claim earth is not a spinning ball

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  2. Fak. should we expect power outage after Sunday in Clallam County?

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    1. Are you asking if you might lose power in the biggest storm in history?

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  3. Cliff, could we more historic weather events this winter like a major artic outbreak in which we haven't had one since December 1990.

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  4. If today's storm at 951 hPa is the equivalent of a category three hurricane, is a storm with a low of 942 hPa the equivalent of a category four hurricane?

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  5. So the worst case scenario is just 30-40 mph in the Seattle area?

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    1. I think as of today, yes. As of tomorrow we'll find out.

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  6. Wow, two in a row, and this one does not have a tropical origin? I've always wondered how these bombs formed? Any insights into the mechanisms of how this happens would be appreciated.

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    1. Just your weather modification observatory at its finest. How come people dont believe that our weather is manipulated? Science purposes i suppose, but if you really dig into what you really want to know google wont censor real actual research. Its amazing what you can find out. Things you never knew and it blows your mind with factual proven real and true research. There are huge cloud machines that will make it rain in places yadda yadda. In the 70's we flew planes up and cloud seeded to flood a town that killed like 200,000 people. Government called that one a damn collaps. No they made it rain and wiped them out. Look that up too! They modify weather to push storms and hurricanes in different directions. They manipulate our weather to keep us depressed in seattle. No vitamin D then your irritated gloomy feeling no energy but with vitamin d or sun you feel happier its the vitamin its natural and the pacific ocean at one time long ago was tropical and hot. When we were underwater here back then and continents were moving around the west coast will be tropical again after these shifting changes. People want to blame humans but in reality people need to start learning the ways of the earth they live on and you get caught up in everyday life no one thinks about the big one! Its happening faster then they say. Why else would the billionaires all be trying to race to get to other planets? Look and see how many missions recently nasa has launched. Lots going on at the space staions folks.

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    2. Google censors EVERYTHING to fit their agenda.

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  7. Well crafted post of an awesome storm! I live among tall fir and cedar trees so my concerns are hyper local and that took me to the European model site. Fortunately for my area of Redmond it's predicting a short burst of gusts around midday Sunday in the ~45mph range. I'm preparing for a short power outage, but not yet sharpening my chain saw. https://weather.us/forecast/7262428-union-hill-novelty-hill/meteogram

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  8. What about the warm temperatures today? 74 degrees at various places including Mill Creek.

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  9. For the Lacey, Olympia and Shelton areas what kind of wind speeds are we looking at?

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    1. Looks like gusting to about 10-12mph gusting to 30s? Using Olympia as an example, anyway. A few wind tunnels all over Thurston/Mason.
      https://weather.us/forecast/5805687-olympia/meteogram

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  10. So just 40 mph winds? That's child's play, up north by the border we deal with 80mph north Easters.

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  11. Near my home in Sudden Valley (part of Bellingham) there are are trees that look like they are 100 to 150 ft tall. If any came down on my roof .. Perish the thought!

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  12. what is expected for San Juan Island?

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  13. After an abomination that makes desolate, then sudden destruction will come upon them!... I guess our governments are asking for this!

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  14. Hey Cliff, would love to hear your thoughts on another big storm forming just off the coast of Mexico, could make major impacts in SoCA, along with AZ and NM. Then it now appears that yet another large system is forming out in the Pacific, and could hit the NW the last weekend of Oct. If it all pans out...wow.

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  15. Why do all the other weather sources not show any of this?

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  16. Definitely not the result of a changing climate!

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  17. where is the energy for this storm coming from? The atlantic side is the differential between the hot and cold ocean water, correct?

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  18. Your second half of the Oct 22nd podcast was amazing to listen to. Thank you for always keeping us informed and up to date in the PNW!

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  19. Thank you for this info. Will check in again tomorrow. From Crofton, BC (Southern Vancouver Island).

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