The first...and lesser act...of today's wind event took place this morning, the passage of an occluded front associated with the offshore low. But the main act is still in the cards, and folks should be prepared.
The infrared satellite image at 6 AM shows the swirl of clouds around the low center, located southeast of Vancouver Island. The occluded front is indicated by the roughly north-south band of cloud over the Cascades at that time.
Heavy rain accompanied the occluded front (see radar at 2 AM), and after its passage winds surged.
The maximum winds during the last 24 hr (ending 6 AM), which pretty much happened during the past 6 hours, are impressive: several over 40 mph in the central Puget Sound, with some on the Kitsap Peninsula reaching 50-60 mph. Even stronger winds on the coast.
Power outages have already occurred over Seattle
And Puget Sound Energy has about 25,000 customers blacked out, including large areas over the Kitsap.
The winds above Seattle-Tacoma Airport show the movement of strong winds aloft, some of which have reached the surface in gusts. This chart shows sustained winds from the surface to 10,000 ft (700 hPa pressure in this figure), with time increasing to the right (in UTC, 13/12 is 4 AM this morning). The solid triangles indicate 50 knot sustained winds. Strong winds came in aloft overnight, and intensified with the occluded front. Temperatures area cooling as well (think snow in the mountains).
We are now in the break before the main act.
You will even notice the rain has backed off and there will be sun breaks. Absolutely typical. We must wait until late morning/early afternoon when the low approaches and the winds will increase again, probably exceeding what we experienced last night.
The UW has developed the Seattle WindWatch site (sponsored by Seattle City Light) to assist City Light in preparing for and managing wind outages. One of its capabilities is to present the latest High Resolution Rapid Refresh forecast from the National Weather Service. This system forecasts very strong winds along the coast at 11 AM (blue indicates gusts about 50 mph), with lesser, but still problematic winds (40-50 mph gusts) over the Seattle, with stronger gusts from Everett westward.
By 4 PM, winds will accelerate further over central and southern Puget Sound. With many leaves still on the trees and new branches untested by strong winds, expect more power outages.
Be prepared for the increasing gusts and avoid places with a lot of trees. No biking to the UW on the Burke Gilman trail for me today! And if you have trees around your home, expect lots of leaves down.