Blustery day to kick off the fall stormy season

Blustery day to kick off the fall stormy season
Wind-blown waves crash into a sea wall in West Seattle, south of Alki. (Photo by YouNews contributor kweitz)
SEATTLE -- The kickoff to the fall stormy season is upon us, as a very strong storm races across the Pacific Ocean and heads into British Columbia.

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 Warning and High Surf Warning for coast.
  • Flood Warning for Skokomish River for potential for minor flooding
  • Winter Storm Warning for high elevation areas of the Cascades for potential for 4-6" of snow above 4,000 feet, with highest accumulations above 6,000 feet. These snow forecasts are for levels above Snoqualmie or Stevens Pass, which should be OK.
  • Winter Weather Advisory in effect for Olympics.
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Overview:

A very strong storm with pressure readings on par with strong hurricane (28.47" of mercury, or 964 milibars) is still slowly moving toward the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

The storm's associated cold front moved through Saturday night bringing a period of moderate to heavy rain. The front is now through but the area will see more pockets of rain through the day -- some showers could still be heavy at times, but on the other hand, we might squeeze out some sunbreaks later in the afternoon.

The storm center is expected to drift off the northern tip of Vancouver Island 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.

RAIN:

The rain with the front has passed, bringing 1-3" in the Olympics and between 0.5"-0.75" to the lowlands.

It was enough to drive the Skokomish River right up to the edge of its banks, and thus a Flood Warning is in effect for that river. The rain amounts are not enough to affect other rivers and thus no other advisories are in effect and no more are expected.

The lowlands will continue to see rain at times Sunday -- sometimes heavy -- as there is still quite a bit of moisture streaming in behind the front.

A second wave of rain is due in Sunday night into Monday.

WIND:

We'll see breezy winds at times through Monday now as the storm drifts closer then through British Columbia.

For Sunday, winds will gust between 20-30 mph -- maybe a few higher gusts up north and along the coast. Noticeable, but not problematic.

Winds will pick up a little Sunday night into Monday as the storm reaches its closest point to western Washington. Winds in the city could gust to 35-40 mph, and maybe some higher gusts in the interior and inland islands north of Everett. At this point, there are no wind advisories but the Northwest Interior areas might qualify for a Wind Advisory for Monday.

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 WARNING 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.

MOUNTAIN SNOW:

This storm will be the first big mountain snow of the season, and a WINTER STORM WARNING 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.

TEMPERATURES:

A fall chill will be in the air with highs in the low-mid 50s Sunday and Monday.

GRADUAL CALMING:

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!