From May to November in 2 hours flat

From May to November in 2 hours flat »Play Video
Stitched video image of a web camera atop the UW Atmospheric Sciences Building taken at roughly noon (left) and 2 p.m. (right) on May 19, 2010.

SEATTLE -- We were getting asked about it all morning Wednesday as people looked out windows to blazing sunshine here in Seattle: "Is the storm still coming? "What about the winds?".

By early afternoon, the question no longer needed to be posed as a driving rain swept into the region, bringing some gusty winds for the ride, mainly gusting between 30-40 mph but there were a few spots that managed gusts over 60 mph.

Green River C.C. was closed in Auburn after a tree knocked out power to 3,000 people Wednesday afternoon. Only a few scattered outages remained by Wednesday night.

In Kenmore, 6,000 customers lost power after a tree fell on a substation, but power was restored within hours. In Grays Harbor County, 1,300 people were left in the dark, but power was restored to most of the customers by the evening.

As expected, the wind champions were along the coast. Both Hoquiam and Forks recorded gusts of 60 mph. A spotter in Enumclaw said he recorded a gust of 65 mph, and the gauge at Oak Harbor reported a gust of 46 mph.

The greater Tacoma area also had a brief gust to 49 mph when the front passed through in the afternoon, but otherwise, peak wind gusts for the storm were generally 35-45.

Here is a sampling of peak gusts:

  • Spanaway: 65 mph (Unofficial spotter report)
  • Hoquiam: 60 mph
  • Forks: 60 mph
  • Ocean Shores: 59 mph
  • Port Townsend: 56 mph
  • Bellingham (spotter): 54 mph
  • Bothell: 51 mph
  • Tacoma (Fort Lewis runway): 49 mph
  • Oak Harbor: 49 mph
  • Gig Harbor: 47 mph
  • Seattle (Alki Beach): 47 mph
  • Friday Harbor: 43 mph
  • Everett: 41 mph
  • Shelton: 41 mph
  • Bremerton: 40 mph
  • Seattle (Sand Point): 40 mph
  • Seattle (Sea-Tac): 38 mph

The winds tapered off in the early Thursday morning hours.

An Amazing Calm Before The Storm

I have to say the morning sunshine was quite unique with such a storm closing in -- one of the most stark calm periods before a storm that I can remember.

Usually, the clouds gradually increase and thicken for several hours before a storm arrives. But today, it was crystal clear as the storm approached. Driving in to work this morning, you could almost see every speck of Mt. Rainier, compared to times when there's just a few showers around and Rainier hides for a week. Temperatures at noon around Seattle were in the mid 60s with the sun still out.

Meanwhile, rain was falling just south of Olympia and heading this way.

I guess this is a factor of what happens when you try to sneak a wind storm into late spring -- you're fighting a propensity for a sunny day.

Anyway, here is a photo of a visible satellite image taken at noon. Note how clear it was over Seattle and how...not so clear it was over Olympia.

Hopefully people (and boaters in particular) didn't get caught off guard by the sunshine and ignore the forecasts of stronger wind and rain for the afternoon.

And here is time lapse video from the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Building from about 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. Watch how fast a sunny day turned into a rainy day.

And here is video our reporter Matt Markovich filmed in Normandy Park of just how much the weather changed in a few minutes!

Up in Everett, the change was even more drastic. At 1:53 p.m., Paine Field reported 72 degrees and partly sunny skies. At 2:35 p.m., it was raining and down to 61 degrees, and by 2:53 p.m., it had cooled to 56 degrees and rainy.  That's 16 degrees lost in an hour!

We'll keep a somewhat active pattern in this storm's wake for a few days with showers and possible afternoon thunderstorms in the offing through Friday, then we remove the thunderstorms and just keep isolated showers mixed into the sunbreaks over the weekend.