Back-to-Back Storms Expected to Hit Pacific Northwest


Two storms will sock the Pacific Northwest between Thursday night and the weekend, unloading over a foot of rain in some areas. The second and much more powerful storm, expected Saturday, is a monster which could unleash destructive winds if it hits the region head-on.

“So much intense weather is going to hit us, that I don’t know where to start,” writes Cliff Mass, a professor of meteorology at the University of Washington.

Mass warns Saturday’s windstorm has the potential to be a “historic event.”

The storm is actually the former Super Typhoon Songda which has transitioned into a potent mid-latitude cyclone. “It poses the threat of a major Western Washington windstorm,” the National Weather Service says.

How high the winds get and where the winds are strongest will depend on its angle of approach and where it makes landfall. Some models, like the European, show the storm smashing into western Washington Saturday evening. Others track it northwest of the Olympic Peninsula over southern Vancouver Island. “All these solutions look pretty threatening,” the Weather Service says.

The European model would thrust the strongest winds, exceeding hurricane-force (74 mph), just south of the storm center along the west coast of Oregon, but tropical-storm-force winds would still lash coastal Washington and Puget Sound.

The European model simulation of the storm (see the animation at the top of this post) shows a textbook meteorological “bomb,” defined as a storm whose central pressure falls at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. It shows this storm’s pressure dropping about 30 millibars between Friday night and Saturday night from 998 mb to 969 mb — a level equivalent to many Category 2 hurricanes.

The GFS model predicts a less severe storm than the European model and would bring tropical storm-force winds to the west coast of Washington rather than Oregon.

In a worst-case scenario on Saturday, “Puget Sound could get a very major hit with massive power outages and damage,” Mass says. “This is a very dangerous storm.”

In addition to howling winds and torrential rain, towering waves of 30 feet or higher are possible along the coast, which could cause beach erosion and coastal flooding, the Weather Service says.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Jason Samenow