Storm Wrapup

November 22, 2009

Oh boy;  feels like I stayed up too much last night watching the wind.  I was up until 1am and then from 2:30 to 3:30 during the peak of the storm.  Now both kids are sick in bed and on the couch, so a good time to do a recap of our best inland wind so far this season.

As expected, it wasn’t a big windstorm.  Peak gusts from the Airports:

PDX: 51  HIO: 44  VUO: 43  TTD: 50  UAO: 48  SLE: 48  KLS: 39  SPB: 38

Of course there were some higher gusts recorded at some home weather stations:

Forest Grove: 52  Corbett: 46, Orchards: 50, Happy Valley: 52, Glen Jackson Bridge: 51

That 51 mph from PDX is the highest southerly wind since December 2006.  By the way, when looking for the highest gust at NWS observation sites, make sure you go to the RAW observation and look for the PKWND comment.  That’s the peak gust for the hour.  For example, the 4am observation from PDX: KPDX 221153Z 21020G31KT 10SM -RA FEW028 OVC040 08/05 A2953 AO2 PK WND 21044/1058.   It’s the direction (240=SW), speed (44kts=51mph), and time (10:58z=2:58am).

What went right?  Model performance…pretty good.  The mesoscale models did well on depth of the low.  It ended up coming inland slightly south of where it was expected, maybe right over Astoria and then inland to central Washington.  But still, very nicely done models!

What didn’t go right?  Observations are pitiful off our coastline this winter.  What is going on?   Buoys with no windspeeds, buoys that aren’t working or not in place, and the dirty little secret we never talk about; horrendous radar coverage offshore.  There’s no excuse to not have two radars in place along the Oregon and Washington Coastline.  That tornado that moved into Lincoln City?  Someone from the NWS can correct me if I am wrong, but I think the LOWEST the beam can see out there is about 15,000!  Even after some of the signal makes it through gaps in the Coast Range, we’re missing the entire lowest section of the atmosphere along the Pacific Northwest coastline.  At least they got organized enough in Washington to put in a coastal radar somewhere near Hoquiam within the next two years.  That would have shown us exactly where the low pressure center was.  There needs to be another radar near Newport or Florence to at least partly fill the gap between the Eureka radar and the new one coming up north.  I wish we had the willpower or leadership to get that done. 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen