A Possible Strong Wind Event Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Monday) a significant wind event is forecast to hit the region by the U.S. models..  But there is some uncertainty because some models (e.g., the European Center) are moving the low farther offshore.

The 1 PM Sunday visible satellite imagery shows the incipient storm, nearly due west of the CA/OR border. Can you see the swirl of clouds around the low and the very unstable air (with popcorn-looking clouds) to the storm's west?

 The latest WRF run  (forced by the US GFS model) shows the forecast sea level pressures (solid lines) at 4 PM Sunday.  A 995 hPa central pressure.

 By 10 AM, Monday morning, the system has revved up as a double-barrel low, with an intense pressure gradient (change of pressure with distance) along the Washington Coast.  That will bring very strong winds.

 The low pressure sweeps northwestward, bringing a strong north-south pressure gradient over western Washington, which will experience strong winds.

How strong?

       Here are the wind gusts forecast by the ultra-high resolution (1.3 km grid spacing) UW WRF system.

By 6 AM Monday morning, strong winds have reached the coast (50-60 knots) and over portions of NW Washington.

 By 11 AM (19 UTC), crazy strong gusts (above 70 knots have reached the SW coast of Washington) as the low center approaches the NW tip of WA.

By 1 PM, the low center is over Tatoosh Island and winds over Puget Sound are revving, with gusts to 50 knots over south Seattle and more around the San Juans.

The action continues through 3 PM, with the winds starting to back off along the southern WA coast.

But what about other models and ensemble (many forecast) products? The NWS SREF ensemble system's forecast of sustained winds at Sea Tac shows that most runs indicate windy conditions, with an average sustained wind of about 20 knots, which would imply gusts to around 25-30 knots.   There is considerable uncertainty, with some of the runs with much stronger winds.

The vaunted European Center model is taking the low farther offshore with the gusts over Puget Sound reaching  40-45 knots, with more over the coast and San Juans (see graphics of pressure and wind gusts below for 4 PM Monday).

A forecast of gusts over Seattle of 30-50 mph seems reasonable.  Add 20 mph for the San Juans and the coasts.  Considering that we are early in the season and lots of leaves are still on the trees, one should expect that thousands of folks will lose power tomorrow.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

We've reached the time of year where every wiggle in the jet stream becomes enticing. 

Call it what you want.  The November doldrums.  Purgatory.  There's not enough snow to ski in the central Wasatch and we need more.

I'm already getting inquiries about the storm later this coming work work week.  My advice?  Curb your enthusiasm.

That advice is not because I think the storm will be a bust, but because we are still a few days out and the ensembles are showing a wide range of possible outcomes, from relatively light accumulations to up to 14 inches at Alta-Collins.  Typically, ensembles are underdispersive, meaning that range probably underestimates the full range of possible outcomes.  In other words, we don't really know much yet except that a trough will be coming through and we'll probably see some snow. 

What I do know is that today will be a lovely mid November Sunday.  Enjoy it.