Weather Blog

Why no wind warning along the coast?

Why no wind warning along the coast?

It was a bit of a confusing afternoon Monday tracking the warnings from the National Weather Service in advance of the approaching storm. The Washington Coast, which had been under a High Wind Watch for expected 60 mph wind gusts, had the watch dropped when expected wind speeds were lowered to 55 mph.

But farther inland, where wind gusts were "only" expected to be between 45-50 mph, there's a Wind Advisory in effect - and it was even extended until 11 a.m. Monday.

So why not a warning or advisory for the coast, where it's supposed to be even windier.

Apparently, the coast is seasoned enough not to need them.

First, let's break down what all those advisories mean:

A "Wind Advisory" is the lowest rung on the National Weather Service warning arsenal. It means sustained winds are expected to be between 30-39 mph with wind gusts between 45 and 57 mph.

Next higher is a High Wind Warning, which means gusts over 57 mph are imminent or happening. A High Wind Watch simply means those conditions are possible, but not imminent. The coast was on a High Wind Watch earlier Monday with forecasted wind gusts possibly at 60 mph.  But when the forecasted speeds dropped to 55 mph (looks like the storm is curling a touch more to the north and farther away from us), it was two mph below the High Wind Warning criteria, so no High Wind Warning was issued, and the High Wind Watch was canceled.

For everyone else, that would mean you get a Wind Advisory instead. But the coast doesn't get a Wind Advisory because wind gusts between 45-57 mph are so frequent there in the fall and winter, the area is well equipped to handle it and they don't require any kind of warning. So Wind Advisories are not issued for the coastal areas. You just get a nice little note from the National Weather Service like this:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
323 PM PDT MON MAY 4 2009

WAZ516-517-051030-
NORTH COAST-CENTRAL COAST-
323 PM PDT MON MAY 4 2009

...VERY WINDY TONIGHT ON THE COAST...

CONDITIONS WILL BECOME VERY WINDY TONIGHT ON THE WASHINGTON COAST.
SOUTHEAST WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH GUSTING TO 55 MPH WILL DEVELOP
THIS EVENING. THE WIND DIRECTION WILL SWITCH TO SOUTHWEST LATE
TONIGHT.

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It's probably on par with why the Minneapolis weather office doesn't exactly need to put out warnings when the temperature drops to 10 degrees in the winter :)