Another day, another windstorm in Western Washington

Another day, another windstorm in Western Washington
SEATTLE -- I'm thinking the wind might be a bit jealous.

As a father of two young girls, I've seen what happens when one sibling thinks the other gets too much attention...usually it involves some sort of tantrum or other attention-getting event.

November is typically when windy weather has center stage, but admittedly, we've been shining a lot of focus on the potential for cooler air over the weekend.

Consider the wind noticed now.

For the second time in three days, strong winds are blowing through Western Washington, although the region appears to be weathering this storm much better than the 200,000+ power outages we saw on Monday. More on why in a moment.

Here are some of the peak gusts as of 11 a.m.

  • Bellingham Bay: 65 mph
  • Oak Harbor: 60 mph
  • Pt. Wilson: 56 mph
  • Anacortes: 54 mph
  • Port Townsend: 52 mph
  • Bellingham (Airport): 51 mph
  • Friday Harbor: 47 mph
  • Acme: 45 mph
  • Alki Beach: 45 mph
  • Gig Harbor: 43 mph
  • Everett: 41 mph
  • Olympia: 40 mph
  • Hoquiam: 40 mph
  • 520 Bridge: 37 mph
  • Seattle: 36 mph

All wind watches and warnings were canceled at 1:20 p.m.

The winds will continue to die down later in the afternoon, but still remain gusty through the day.

Aside from the winds, the storm is bringing heavy rain and a whole lot of mountain snow. A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for the Cascades through 10 a.m. Thursday. Snow levels were around 3,000-3,500 feet Wednesday morning but expected to rapidly drop to 2,000 feet by Wednesday evening. Snowfall totals are expected to reach 18-24" on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, about 8-14" on the higher mountain passes, and 5-8" along Snoqualmie Pass.

Rainfall totals have been pretty impressive in some places. Over in Montesano, a trained spotter reported 0.5" of rain in just 45 minutes. The DOT says problems arose on I-5 there due to large amounts of standing water on the freeway.

The rain will also taper off into the afternoon.

Why isn't this storm causing as much damage?

Glancing at some of those top wind speeds today might have you scratching your head as they are not too far off from Monday's storm gusts. With the first storm, over 200,000 people lost power. Wednesday? Power outages have been few and far between. In fact , Monday's storm wasn't all too much different than the wind event we had on May 2 which only knocked out power to 24,000.

Why? Because it was the first one of the season.

Ted Buehner with the National Weather Service gives these three reasons:

"1) Last winter's El Nino resulted in rather tranquil weather with no real wind storm event. 2) The wet spring resulted in a lot of tree growth this summer (yes, we did have summer!). 3) Sept was the 3rd wettest on record, Oct was 2 inches above normal, and Nov so far is about 2/3rds of an inch above average. So the soils are wetter than normal."

He says given the above with all the wet soils and extra tree material our season's first 'blow' would be nature's tree trimmer and that is what happened Monday evening.

"All the weak tree material came down - on power lines, and even a few weak trees came down pulling power lines and a few poles down," Buehner said.

Now that most of the weakest trees/branches have been thinned from the herd, the region is in much better shape to weather 40-50 mph winds, and we are seeing that proof on Wednesday.