Wind-blown Northwesterners: Third time is not the charm

Wind-blown Northwesterners: Third time is not the charm

SEATTLE -- Hockey fans would probably call this a hat trick of storms, if only their hats hadn't blown away...

The third consecutive storm is starting to roll through Western Washington this evening, packing another punch of wind and heavy rain -- and now mountain snow.

We already received an unofficial report of a 63 mph gust on the west side of San Juan Island, plus an official gust at the Friday Harbor Airport of 60 mph. (Folks there must feel like they've been blown to next Tuesday!)

Here are some peak gusts as of 10 p.m.:

  • San Juan Island (unofficial): 63 mph
  • Smith Island: 62 mph
  • Bellingham: 61 mph
  • Friday Harbor: 60 mph
  • S. Fidalgo Island: 57 mph
  • Anacortes: 55 mph
  • Oak Harbor: 55 mph
  • West Seattle (Alki Beach): 51 mph
  • Hoquiam: 49 mph
  • Olympia: 45 mph
  • Everett: 44 mph
  • Tacoma/Fort Lewis: 44 mph
  • Port Angeles: 43 mph
  • Forks: 40 mph

Snohomish PUD reported 5,000 without power in Snohomish County, mostly the Stanwood/Clearview area with some scattered outages in Edmonds.

In Seattle, City Light said about 400 customers were without power in the city's Queen Anne neighborhood as well as Shoreline.

Clallam County PUD said some 12,000 customers in the west end of its service area - Forks, Clallam Bay, Sekiu and Neah Bay - were without power due to a problem on the BPA transmission line between Port Angeles and Forks.

And Grays Harbor PUD reported an outage affecting approximately 4,300 customers in the South Beach area, including Westport, Grayland and Tokeland. A spokesperson, who said repair crews have been dispatched, said the estimated restoration time is midnight.

High Wind Warnings remain in effect for the coast and Northwest Interior through 1 a.m. Thursday. Sustained winds on the coast are expected to be between 35-45 mph with gusts to 60-70 mph likely at times. Up in the northwest interior, we are expecting southeast winds of 20-40 mph with gusts to 50-60 mph.

For most of the rest of Western Washington, including the Seattle Metro area, a lesser Wind Advisory is in effect for the same time period, although strongest gusts look like they'll be closer to late evening time frame and begin to abate round 8-9 p.m. ish.

South winds are expected to be sustained of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40-50 mph at times. The northern Hood Canal, greater Everett/Mukilteo/Edmonds/Lynnwood area and lower Chehalis Valley are expected to trend toward the higher end of those gusts, while the other areas will trend toward the lower ends.

Rain:

Aside from the wind, this storm will bring another wet night and wet Thursday.

Flood Watches remain in effect for rivers in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Thurston, Clallam and Jefferson Counties, but these might be expanded again depending on how much rain falls. A Flood Warning remains in effect for the Skokomish River.

Right now, predictions are for another 5-10" of rain in the Olympic Mountains, 3-6" over the North Cascades and Willapa Hills, and 1-3" across the rest of the Cascades by Friday morning.

The Skokomish is expected to fall back below flood stage Wednesday afternoon, but likely go right back over flood stage Thursday. The other rivers at risk of flooding are the Satsop, Puyallup, Dungeness, Elwha and Newaukum, plus drive the already-high Chehalis over. So far, just minor flooding is expected aside from the Skokomish, which depending on the rain could go worse than "minor" again.

Mountain Snow:

One change with this storm over the past two is that it's not quite as warm -- especially in the Cascades. With lower snow levels, it means flooding isn't quite as high as a concern in the Cascades, but instead, we'll just slam several inches of snow up there instead. (Mt. Baker Skiers to Mother Nature: "We'll take that!") But the snow level situation is quite complex, with varying levels depending on where you are and in turn, will dictate how much snow you get.

First, the obligatory warning: A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the North and Central Cascades from 4 p.m. Wednesday through 4 p.m. Thursday. (And in the Olympics too from 1 p.m. Wednesday through 4 p.m. Thursday)

In the Cascades, snow levels will be at 2,500 feet when the storm first arrives, but rise to 3,500 feet in the North Cascades by morning and 4,500 feet in the Central Cascades. In the North Cascades, with all that moisture streaming into the mountains, we are expecting 2-3 feet of new snow by Friday. In the Central Cascades, the tally is expected to be between 1-2 feet.

Now, 4,500 feet is above both Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass, but with some cold air trickling in from Eastern Washington and being drawn out to the storms offshore, we expect the actual passes themselves to be at freezing. This is a set up for more of a sleet/freezing rain scenario up there. So while it might not be snow on the ground, it could still be icy. So pass travel should be monitored.

And not to forget about the Olympics, but they are expecting about 8-18 inches before the snow levels rise to 5,000 feet on Thursday.

Coastal Surf: It'll be high

As you might expect, the ocean is pretty angry with all these storms rolling through and thus, the surf is quite high. A High Surf Advisory is in effect there Wednesday night through Thursday with waves as high as 20-23 feet.

And then it calms down, right?

Well, not exactly. Believe it or not, another storm rolls in on Thursday, much the same way that we had two storms back-to-back earlier this week. Only this time, the second storm is weaker.

Nonetheless, winds will ramp back up on the coast around late Thursday morning, spreading inland during the afternoon. However, winds will "only" be around 35-40 mph on the coast and north interior, and just generally blustery around Puget Sound to 25-35 mph. You might not even notice by then.

The storm train keeps rolling into Friday with not one, but two more storms, but kind of like how you turn a garden hose off and there's still some residual water that continues to trickle out as the pressure decreases, these storms are successively weaker to where winds are not a concern, it'll just keep it kinda rainy.

So that's about six storms since Sunday night. There can't be more!

Wait, one last straggler for Saturday. This one is moderately potent but so far, the expected storm track is right through Hoquiam. This would spare most of Western Washington from any real wind (since it's the southern sector that gets the wind) and focus most of its attention in Northern Oregon (Portland, Astoria, you'll be windy) but the extreme south coast (Long Beach/Pacific County) and the Longview/Vancouver area could be getting battered once again.

Let's see, long range models show perhaps another gusty day on next Monday then finally -- FINALLY -- the spigot is shut off. Still occasionally showery, but not too wet or windy. Maybe it'll finally give us time to go hunt for that hat!