But even though the storm's center is making landfall well to our north, the storm has far-reaching effects that reach into the Pacific Northwest.
Those effects include the usual fall storm calling cards: rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow.
For the greater Puget Sound and other inland areas, this storm isn't shaping up to be too imposing, but for the coast, it's a different story where strong winds and incredible surf could bring coastal flooding.
The Current Warnings:
- Coastal Flood Watch and High Surf Advisory for coast.
- High Wind Warning for South Coast for gusts as high as 50-60 mph in the beach headlands
- Flood Watch for Skokomish River for potential for minor flooding
- Winter Storm Watch for high elevation areas of mountains for potential for 4-6" of snow above 4,000 feet, with highest accumulations above 6,000 feet. Watch does not include Snoqualmie or Stevens Pass.
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A very strong storm with pressure readings on par with strong hurricane (28.47" of mercury, or 964 milibars) is slowly moving toward the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The storm's associated cold front will move through Saturday night into early Sunday, then pass, tapering steady rains to showers.
The storm center is expected to reach the northern tip of Vancouver Island Saturday morning, then stall there until around Sunday evening, slowly weakening and sliding southeast into southern B.C. through Monday. The storm is over by early Tuesday.
Let's break this down by each type of event.
Steady rains will be around now through midday Sunday, when the rain will change to frequent showers for the rest of the day. The inland lowland areas could see 0.5"-0.75" of rain while the mountains could see 1-3" of rain by Sunday evening.
However, the good news is that the storm is moving fast enough and snow levels will be low enough in the mountains that we aren't expecting any real mountain flooding problems EXCEPT for the Skokomish River, which might reach right up to flood stage.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for the Skokomish, advising of potential of maybe some minor flooding. Every other river looks like it'll manage the water just fine.
While this storm is very strong at its core -- a buoy measured central pressure at 964 millibars, or 28.47" of mercury, forecast models are coming into alignment that the storm center will be well to our north as to not bring very strong winds here. Nonetheless, we will have an extended period of breezy to borderline warning-level winds from Sunday though Monday.
The wind will kick up when the front passes Sunday morning, but will likely stay around 30-35 mph for peak gusts in the city, perhaps some 40-45 mph gusts up north and a more solid chance of 40-45 mph along the coast -- all of those are probably not enough for any wind warnings or advisories, but the north end might perhaps eke to the minimum standard of the low-rung Wind Advisory.
One exception: The Southern Washington coast is under a High Wind Warning as the beach headlands can get higher gusts in this scenario and they have potential for 50-60 mph gusts. But the rest of the coast is not under any wind advisory.
But once these winds pick up, they are here to stay for a while as the storm stalls, then slowly drifts southeast through southern B.C. Even though the storm is strong and getting closer to our area, it will be weakening as it does so. But it'll be enough to keep the southerly breezes going. In fact, Monday could end up the windier day in the Puget Sound interior as the storm center reaches its closest point. We'll of course keep an eye on it as if the storm holds together enough, we might see some gusts to 40-45 mph in Seattle, but at this point, it's looking less that that.
Wind would not die down until at least Monday night -- perhaps even Tuesday morning.
COASTAL FLOODING / HIGH SURF:
This is probably the greatest danger from this storm. As I mentioned earlier, this storm has a very deep low pressure center and while it's far enough away to keep our winds at bay, that storm will churn out some very high swells, and with wind-whipped waves on top of them, we are looking at coastal waves of 30-35 feet Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon.
That's big enough that coastal flooding is a concern, especially along the central coast at high tide. Thus, a COASTAL FLOOD WATCH is in effect. High tide is around 10.7 feet at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Aberdeen and a lower 9.1 foot high tide will occur around 3:30 a.m. Monday.
This storm will be the first big mountain snow of the season, and a WINTER STORM WATCH is now in effect for the mountains. That sounds ominous, and it is significant, but the criteria is lower for a Winter Storm Watch/Warning for the first storm of the season so get people ready who haven't dealt with snow in several months.
But indications are now that snow levels will remain around 5,000 feet Sunday, then only drop to around 4,000 feet Sunday night and Monday -- above Snoqualmie Pass level, and right around Stevens Pass. So U.S. 2 could see a little snow (not much to stick) but I-90 might be bare and wet -- just really wet though.
Where it will snow are higher up places, like Hurricane Ridge drive, the drive to Paradise and Sunrise in Mt. Rainier National Park, and the Mount Baker Highway could receive 6" of snow Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon.
A fall chill will be in the air with highs in the low-mid 50s Sunday and Monday.
We'll taper back to showers and sunbreaks for Tuesday, although it will remain chilly with highs struggling to get to the low 50s both days. We are still holding for a dry day on Wednesday, but more rain is expected after that.
In the meantime, we'll be closely watching the weather all weekend and I'll be sure to Tweet updates on my Twitter account @ScottSKOMO as conditions warrant.
Have a great weekend, and stay dry out there!