Winds gust past 70 mph as storm rolls through area

Winds gust past 70 mph as storm rolls through area
The second windstorm of the season rolled through Western Washington Monday, bringing a dose of heavy rain and very gusty winds to a large portion of the region.

While the main Puget Sound area was mostly spared the worst, the coast and Northwestern Interior sections of the state had the strongest winds since the December 2006 windstorm.

Clallam Bay reported a gust to 92 mph, while Bellingham had an official gust to 74 mph, and an unofficial gust of 97 mph from a trained spotter six miles northeast of the city (that might have been a localized effect.) Anacortes recorded a gust to 73 mph, while on the coast, wind gusts were between 70 and 79 mph, including 71 mph at Hoquiam.

More than 100,000 people had lost power by midday. One of the earliest outages was before dawn around Monroe, where about 8,000 customers lost power for a time after three substations went off line, said Neil Neroutsos, a spokesman for the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

That problem was resolved fairly quickly, but later storm-related problems cut power to about 1,400 customers in the Lake Stevens area, Neroutsos said.

The region's largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, had roughly 77,000 customers in the dark in nine counties during the peak of the storm, with Whatcom and Thurston hit the hardest, spokeswoman Christina Mills said.

Seattle City Light reported nearly 3,900 customers without power in the Burien area because of a failure in a feeder line and more than 100 within Seattle for other reasons. Clallam PUD had about 8,000 without power; Grays Harbor PUD had 15,000 and Cowlitz PUD had 9,300.

A driver in Redmond was hospitalized when a tree crashed down onto his truck near the intersection of Novelty Hill Road and 206th Avenue.

Trees had also fallen across power lines on SR 203 just south of Carnation, blocking the roadway.

The High Wind Warnings have been canceled as of 2:30 p.m. There are no more wind warnings in effect, as peak winds have passed and are on their way winding down.

Here are some peak overall storm gusts.

  • Bellingham (trained spotter, but unofficial): 97 mph
  • Clallam Bay: 92 mph
  • Lake Lawrence: 84 mph
  • Tatoosh Island: 78 mph
  • Destruction Island: 75 mph
  • Bellingham (official): 74 mph (then 71 again at 10 a.m.)
  • Anacortes: 73 mph
  • Hoquiam: 71 mph (they've hit over 70 a few times)
  • Oak Harbor: 70 mph
  • Smith Island: 68 mph
  • Westport: 67 mph
  • East Strait of Juan De Fuca Buoy: 64 mph
  • Friday Harbor: 63 mph
  • Ferndale: 62 mph
  • Port Angeles: 58 mph (early Monday a.m.)
  • Point Robinson: 57 mph
  • Forks: 57 mph (last observation before power outage at 6 a.m.)
  • Seattle (Alki Beach): 55 mph
  • Hoquiam: 54 mph
  • La Conner: 53 mph
  • Tacoma: 53 mph
  • Forks: 52 mph
  • Seattle (Magnolia): 51 mph
  • Orcas Island: 48 mph
  • Seattle (Sea-Tac): 47 mph
  • Olympia: 46 mph
  • Everett: 39 mph

What's The Timeline? -- Updated 2:00 p.m.

The worst of the winds are now over. Winds peaked along the coast and northwestern interior around noon, and the surge of wind through the Puget Sound area through the early afternoon hours, while still pretty gusty, was weaker than originally feared.

Winds will remain gusty through the afternoon, but will continue to taper off into the evening.

The Meteorological Lowdown:

A strong area of low pressure of at least 967mb made landfall along the northern tip of Vancouver Island around 8 a.m. Monday. This was close to a classic wind storm pattern for us. (If we were to call it a "text book" case, we would want it going ashore either near Neah Bay or along the southern tip of Vancouver Island).

Nonetheless, while the storm went ashore farther to the north, it was fairly strong and that strength made up for some of the energy lost to it being farther away.

That 967mb report came from Solander Island, off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island and near the storm's center. (They also had wind gusts to 79 mph).

The storm's path allowed for strong south winds along the coast, and strong southeast winds along the northern interior. The Olympic Mountains protect the main Puget Sound area from those southeast winds, but usually that area gets the wind when the storm's center passes due north and the associated cold front opens the chute for the due south winds to race toward the low.

However, in this case, the front was aligned to where it allowed some of the building wind surge to push through via the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That alleviated some of the pressure difference so when the front passed through the Puget Sound region, we didn't have as much of a surge left.

We still had wind gusts into the 40-45 mph range (Spots near Puget Sound were over 50 mph) but not as much as we had feared. (The storm making landfall father to the north also helped let Puget Sound region off the hook.)

Southern British Columbia did get hit hard by the storm, as they were closer to the storm's landfall. Gusts around the greater Vancouver area were in the 55-60 mph range.

How Does This Storm Compare?

This storm's central pressure was on par with the December 2006 storm and actually stronger than the Inauguration Day storm of 1993. However, it made landfall much farther north, and that spared the Puget Sound area the bulk of the wind.

This storm was the strongest storm to hit the coast and Northern Interior since the December 2006 storm. In fact, Bellingham, Friday Harbor and Hoquiam had stronger winds with this storm than the December '06 storm.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Winds will gradually decrease through Monday evening and night, as rain changes to showers, then decrease. We actually calm down quite a bit for Tuesday with showers in the morning then tapering off for the afternoon.

Long range forecasts show a return to generally wet and breezy conditions through the end of the week. The storms will pack a good dose of rain, but not as much wind -- jut the usual 20-30 mph stuff. The wettest periods appear to be Wednesday evening/night; Thursday evening/night; and during the day on next Saturday. In between, we'll see scattered showers. High temperatures through the period will be around 50.