Even Windier Today

I snapped these pictures from Google Earth this afternoon. It’s much better if you actually go to the application yourself and scoot around in 3D. It’s the area around Crown Point (Vista House is set on it). A bunch of us got together again today up there and I was sitting there holding an anemometer through through a sunroof when it recorded a gust to 90 mph right beside the steps leading up to Vista House. It only took about 2 minutes to get a gust that strong. Later Steve Pierce recorded a gust to 101 mph. From my previous post it should be clear that I didn’t doubt several different anemometer readings, but I had to experience it for myself. After years of living in the area I knew the wind is always significantly stronger out on that point, but I didn’t realize how much. The effect is quite localized and you can see why when you are up there or from these pictures. There is a long stretch of the Gorge angling up to the northeast all the way to Cascade Locks in the picture to the right. The east wind (actually northeast in this part of the Gorge) runs right down the straight stretch. Then in this area the Gorge turns straight westward. So the wind runs right into the rocks at Crown Point. This area has also been called Thor’s Heights in the past. The wind does actually come from the northeast for a couple miles beyond up on the flat in the Corbett area. You couldn’t get a more perfect spot to accelerate wind up and over an exposed cliff. Add a basically round concrete/stone building, wrap the wind around that and good meteorological times follow! This WAS the “freeway” before I-84 was built in the mid 1950s. All traffic heading to The Dalles had to go around that point. I’ve seen pictures of trucks tipped over there.

At the same time the wind is raging out there, you can look up on the hill and see the trees not moving much. You don’t have to get more than a few city blocks back to find more “typical” Gorge gusts of 50-65 mph on a day like today. You may notice there are some homes just behind, one shows up well-exposed on the 2nd picture. That’s a great view, but a rough 4 months of the year in the winter! There was a restaurant up there in the 20s-40s called the Crown Pt. Chalet. Weather observations were taken during I think a 5 year period in the early 1930s as well. I met a woman that was a weather observer…rough duty don’t you think?

So two thoughts to leave you with.

1. If you want to experience strong wind, this is the place to go when the east wind is blowing in the winter.

2. We now know that East wind gusts of 80-100+ mph are a regular visitor to Crown Pt. from November to February, and maybe 1 or 2 other exposed (hikeable only) spots at the west end of the Gorge. Otherwise it’s rare to see east wind gusts above 70-80 mph.

Oh, and probably some freezing rain in that spot coming up tonight…IF the moisture makes it. More on that later.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

79 Responses to Even Windier Today

  1. anyone besides me have no audio from 12 news???…

  2. kcteach (Gresham 500') says:

    Precip actually enhancing after passing the coast range.

  3. 40Β°….Td 34….calm…no precip as of yet

  4. HIO Phil (Punxsutawney) elevation 189' says:

    Some rain making it to the ground here. Very light amounts and temp 40.8, DP 30, so very unlikely at the moment that we see freezing rain here.

  5. Winterwonderland says:

    Westside of Mt. Scott, the winds are crazy. Blowing everything everywhere including are rolling trash cans, shaking the house.

    • Chuck on MT Scott says:

      I am near the top on the SW side. It’s been wild up here. I need to setup a weather station.

  6. Corbett Tez says:

    The winds @ the Corbett School which is about 1/2 mile from me are 32 mph gusting to 42mph at this hour. I’m just wondering what the forcast for wind up here is for the weekend? I had thought originally that this would stop by tomorrow.

  7. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Surface gradients
    As of 9 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -9.8mb | 1.2mb Decrease
    TTD-DLS: -9.6mb | 0.3mb Decrease

  8. flurball says:

    A nice 974mb low off the southern oregon coast way out in the 00z run. wouldn’t that be nice to verify and move north or possibly pull some real cold air in behind if it moves to the south?

  9. ..winds have picked up here considerably…almost non existant earlier today, and since dark, have become a sustained east with gusts….

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Not sure about this moisture, but earlier I had some cold sprinkles.

    • flurball says:

      Had a decent 20 min shower in Clackamas about 90 minutes ago. Droped the temp from 42 to about 38. Wish it woulda kept up

  10. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Back now. Did I miss anything?

    Surface gradients
    As of 8 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -11.0mb | 1.1mb Increase
    TTD-DLS: -9.9mb | No change
    Hmmmm back to 11mb.

  11. kcteach (Gresham 500') says:

    My temp has gone from 37 to 34 in just over an hour. No anemometer, but winds are definitely stronger now than this time yesterday or this morning. Much more sustained.

  12. Maybe questionable, but Rooster Rock has had a gust to 66 in the past hour..


  13. Danny in Troutdale says:

    So how does troutdale look tonight. Since I’m right at the mouth of the gorge I was wondering if troutdale looks like it could get some freezing rain or not? πŸ™‚ What do you guys think?

  14. Corbett Tez says:

    For those of us who live out here and are damn sick of this wind already this winter. Can you give us a clue as to when you see this ending this week? Hopefully before the weekend!?

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      The wind never really ends out near the Gorge. During the summer you get the hot wind.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Actually it’s really quiet out at Crown Point most of the time from late March through early October. In fact June-August you might get 3-5 days that are windy.

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      Hmmm …. perhaps it’s down sloping winds from the mountains during the summer then. The old mantra of east winds during the winter bringing cold weather and east winds during the summer bringing hot weather usually (but not always) holds true…

    • cap - hood river says:

      During the April thru September, the funnel turns the other direction, and the central/eastern end gets the winds, and world class windsurfing!

  15. Matthew says:

    18z gfs show no periods cold enough for snow, but will will have to keep watching, because during the 3rd week do get down for a few days around -2 to -3c…

    Hopefully this cold air will shift westward.

  16. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    With this strong low pressure area being at 982mb… East winds will probably subside within the next handful of hours.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Maybe not the “Gorge”, but the majority of people in this neck of the woods can say goodbye to it πŸ™‚

  17. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Surface gradients
    As of 6 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -10.0mb | 0.2mb Decrease
    TTD-DLS: -9.5mb | No change

    Looks like things are a bit more ‘gap’ than downslope by looking at the 6 PM mesowest observations not seeing any gusty conditions west of I-5/I-205.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Just a sec ago I had a gust around 20mph, but that was probably very local and easteries are at their end here.

  18. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    NICE GUST. Now that was FUN!
    New peak gust 52.0 mph @ 5:56 PM. Seems my earlier post my be coming true.

  19. Matthew says:

    Much of the United states, Europe, a large part of asia is far far below normal. But the western United states-us are not getting it. 😦

  20. Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

    Line of showers now moving through…

    Gosh the winds last night here sure were loud! Even this morning they sounded close to 40mph. Crazy.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Hillsboro) says:

      Here is a radar loop:

      Unusually organized line, I would only see this with convection.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      It was looking good up till it reached Tillamook, but once it crossed east of the Coast Range you can see the effects the Gorge wind is having on this piddly moisture. It’ll be dried up to nothing once that reaches PDX.

  21. Mback says:

    I see many requests for a weather station, with anemometer of course, to be installed at Crown Point. Mark and I spoke about this earlier today while standing next to the Vista House in a bit of a “calm” spot. Mark brought up the point that most people may not like the site of an anemometer being attached to the building as it is a national historic site. However, he suggested it be attached somewhere near the building, not on it. I have no doubt that if one can be installed up there, Mark will be the one to get it done. We all know he is just as big of a weather geek as all of us!

    As for my trip to Crown Point once again today, I can only describe it as amazing! I took several trips to the windiest spot next to the Vista House and paid the price on several occasions. SP and I have several battle wounds to prove just who is the biggest weather nerd. I fell several times even while almost laying flat on the ground. The power of the wind was simply amazing. Standing in the wind and recording winds 50 – 95+mph wears on you after 5 or so minutes. It feels as if your chest is being pounded on by a sumo wrestler. It is impossible to stand which is why I had to pin myself up against the handrail. I was in the wind when Phil recorded the 100.9mph gust and it was so strong you could barely breathe. Today was an amazing experience and it only makes me want to go back for more. Thank you to all who showed up and I can’t wait to do it again!!!

    WX Ninja

  22. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Surface gradients
    As of 4 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -10.2mb | 0.4mb Increase
    TTD-DLS: -9.5mb | 0.1mb Increase

  23. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    WOW…. HUGE LOUD Gust….
    Came running to my weather station
    New peak gust: 48.8 mph!

  24. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    Earlier post mentioned a bus of kids at Crown Point with the lost scarf. That was the Australian kids i’d mentioned earlier. They had a lot of fun but she said it was FREEZING!! πŸ™‚

  25. …for once (well, maybe twice πŸ™‚ ) i was absolutely in awe of the weather conditions around me, today at crown point….in addition to that 100.9, there were many gusts above 90, and even mostly hugging the building with occasional forays out to do battle, my legs feel like they barely won the war; there was one time where i had to abort a trip to my rig cause the wind was to strong for me to even get close to the ground and crabwalk….
    …5 star stamp of approval from this observer….

  26. Maybe it’s time someone (very daring) install an anemometer on top of (or on the steps) of the Vista House!! πŸ™‚

    Hard to say how long it would last!

    No, I am NOT volunteering at this time. πŸ˜€

  27. non stop pummeling
    merciless brutal east roar
    crown point geek delight

  28. Big Nel says:

    Just back from Crown Point. My son Kyle & Antipex spent some time on the steps freezing. Saw one near miss with the wind and a car door. Wind roaring, even on the hills above Vista House.

  29. PDX Weather Nut says:

    It’s in the mid 30s here this afternoon and looks like it’ll drop below freezing. That forecast of rain only might need to be revised.

  30. Sarah in West Linn says:

    I’m about as libertarian as it gets, but considering the sheer force of these winds, shouldn’t there at least be some sort of warning posted up at Crown Point? It’s a tourist destination, and I can just imagine some hapless family driving up there on the wrong day to get a nice view of the gorge. You know how foolish some people can be. It’s a good way to lose a three-year-old.

    Something like a high surf warning they post on beaches.

  31. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Surface gradients
    As of 4 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -9.8mb | 0.6mb Decrease
    TTD-DLS: -9.4mb | 0.2mb Decrease

  32. umpire says:

    It is so cool to have a TV weather met who is such a weather geek! (Though I’m sure this will be a topic on tonight’s news!) Wish I could have played hooky from work to go up there.

    As to tonight/tomorrow morning – I see dewpoints remain low – and the swath of moisture looks pretty deep – will this be a ZR version of the 12/29 snow?

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      I’m starting to become concerned at least for my area. With a temp of 37.9 likely to fall a few degrees and dewpoint of 21 it seems possible. East winds will continue throughout which will keep the cooler/drier air well supplied…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I’ve notice the key temp in the past at my home was about 36 at the start of precipitation to actually get ice accumulating after the precipitation got going. Anything higher and it didn’t get down to freezing. Keep in mind that it needs to drop to 30 to 31 degrees to get water to freeze on the roads too.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      So I see you’re sitting at 34… With continued east winds tonight probably 6-7mb I think that may offset any “warm” push into Gresham, Troutdale, and Corbett. If we can get any cooling into the eastern Gorge and Columbia Basin that might even help a bit further. I’m 37.4 F and dewpoint 21…. Really close. The only drawback could be if the precip isn’t heavy enough then the evaporative cooling effect won’t be very helpful.

      Your thoughts?

  33. Cherie in Vernonia says:

    I see the NWS has ZR for me tonite. Hope not….I need to get to work tomorrow πŸ™‚

  34. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Call me crazy, but I think peak gusts for locations east of I-205, Corbett, and Rooster Rock have still not yet taken place…. I think the lower pressure associated with the warm front will cause more “pull” from the strong high over eastern Washington leading to this.

    We’ll see. πŸ™‚

    • SeaChange says:

      Good call! I have to wonder why the models almost invariably weaken the gradient too soon in these types of situations.

  35. PaulO says:

    I had some inlaws that, back in the ’90’s, used to live between Women’s Forum and Crown Point on the corner of, I believe it is, Neiram Rd or something like that. It is in the middle of the slight curve of the river just west of the Vista House and the wind blasts up that hill pretty good too. Used to hate getting out of the car there. If you didn’t aim just the right direction you either could not open the door or got it ripped out of your hands. They lost a few garbage cans each winter too. Pretty area but brutal several months of the year.

  36. one word “startled” when i saw that pic
    also look at the moisture arriving on the coast!

  37. Recorded a gust of 80 mph parked next to the steps thru my moonroof at 1:15pm today…And yes, it is location, location, location…Even parking in different spots around the steps can make a big difference…Think I missed the “peak” wind time today…Temp was 34Β° at the time…

    Hope Keely (Channel 8) is ok…Her and a fellow journalist were blown down the steps while I was there…Crown Point is unforgiving!

  38. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Surface gradients
    As of 3 PM|Current|Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -10.4mb | 0.1mb Decrease
    TTD-DLS: -9.6mb | 0.5mb Decrease

  39. SeaChange says:

    What a great summary, Mark! That place truly is unique. Sounds like there needs to be a more ‘permanent’ anemometer there. I put permanent in quotes because we all know it would only be a matter of time before a strong gust made it go bye-bye. πŸ™‚

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Honestly in the 3-4 years I’ve been on the Blog I think this is one of Mark’s very best descriptive explanations.

  40. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:


    Mark, thanks for the very detailed update and images.

  41. PaulO says:

    Oh, and FIRST! πŸ™‚
    (Just had to do that once)

  42. PaulO says:

    Perfect explanation of what I mentioned yesterday. The terrain is everything!

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