They say sometimes big things come in threes. I think Mother Nature got the memo.
The first of three rather strong storms is rolling into the area today, affecting us for the next three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) while bringing three things along: Rain, wind, and mountain snow.
We'll break it down by condition:
Chalk these first two storms Thursday and Friday under "November usual" -- windy enough to notice it, but not really windy enough to cause major widespread problems, as the center of the storms are expected to go inland far enough north to keep the wind from getting too intense. The third one for Saturday? That might be a different story. More on that in a moment.
For the coast, we're looking at south winds of 30-40 with gusts to 50 mph through the day Thursday. Forks has been around 35 mph, but Destruction Island had a gust to 58 mph and the Cape Elizabeth buoy reported a 60 mph gust.
Strong winds are also the case for the Northwest Interior (Everett north to the Canadian border and then west to about Port Townsend, including the San Juan, Whidbey and Camano Islands). Here, we're expecting 25-35 mph winds, with an occasional gust to 40-50 mph. Friday Harbor had a gust to 55 mph while a buoy in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca recorded a gust to 56 mph.
For the main Puget Sound area/I-5 corridor, our southerly winds will pick up Thursday midday/afternoon to about 20-30 mph, maybe a gust to 40 mph. So as we said, noticeable, but shouldn't cause any widespread problems.
Here's some peak gusts as of 1 p.m.:
Bellingham: 36 mph
Friday Harbor: 55 mph
Burlington: 39 mph
Tacoma: 32 mph
Olympia: 39 mph
Everett: 29 mph
Bremerton: 27 mph
Seattle: 21 mph
Hoquaim: 39 mph
Forks: 37 mph
Winds ease back Thursday night, but they'll probably pick up again to 20-30 mph gusts with Friday's front.
Now, the latest computer models show a potentially stronger wind storm for Saturday night, that could bring high winds to the entire area. There is still some uncertainty in that storm's track, so it's not a slam dunk, but something to warrant attention. We'll keep you posted as the weekend gets closer.
MOUNTAIN SNOW (!!!):
This will be these storms' main calling card, as it's a perfect scenario for heavy mountain snows. Snow levels are expected to remain around 2,500-3,000 feet through Friday night, with gobs of moisture available. What's more, once the first front passes Thursday night, we'll see strong westerly winds in the mountains in the storm's wake, which adds to the lift and generates even more snow.
A HEAVY SNOW WARNING is in effect for the Cascades and Olympics from 7am Thursday through Thursday evening for 9-16" of snow. Then, a WINTER STORM WATCH is in effect from Thursday evening through Friday night, for an *additional* 10-18" of new snow.
All told, by the time we get to Friday night, most areas in the mountains could see from 15-34" of new snow!
And yes, Saturday's storm would even add more.
The rain is here and will be around through most of the day before changing to showers later this evening. The rain will be moderate-to-heavy in intensity, so make sure those storm drains are still open.
We'll then get a lull of just scattered light showers Thursday night through about midday Friday, when the second system quickly brings a return of the steady rains for the rest of the day.
At this point, it looks like snow levels will be low enough that widespread river flooding is not of great concern, but we'll keep an eye on it. But there are no flood advisories.
Nothing too exciting here. Highs will be about 50 both days, lows will be in the low-mid 40s.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
As we hinted to earlier, a third storms is now expected to roll ashore on Saturday. This one has the potential to bring strong winds to all of western Washington if the storm tracks over the Northwest Coast and into southern Vancouver Island. But earlier model predictions had the storm going further south, in which case it's not much of a threat, so we'll see how it shakes out, but keep close attention to the weekend forecasts.
Either way, we'll then calm down to a period of cool, showery weather for Sunday through Tuesday, with highs only in the mid-upper 40s (and more mountain snow!)