Strongest East Wind Of “Winter” Moving In

The next 8+ days will feature the longest period of strong east wind we’ve seen this winter in the metro area and western Columbia River Gorge.  So if you live in one of the usual east wind spots, you’re REALLY going to be tired of the wind by next Friday/Saturday!  We’re talking frequent gusts 35-45 mph in the east metro and 55-75 in the Gorge.

Strong high pressure is settling in east of the Cascades; and doesn’t appear to move substantially until sometime near the end of next week at the earliest  It’ll strengthen and weaken from time to time, but it’ll just be a matter of “windy”, “very windy” or “extremely windy” in the forecast.

In the short term, it’s gradually been picking up and spreading out of the Gorge the past few hours.  Of course this is dry air, so no chance for fog in the Portland/Vancouver Metro Area tonight.  Slightly better chance north of Scappoose/St. Helens and south of Wilsonville.  But even in those spots it’ll be sparse.

The 1.3km WRF-GFS shows 8-9 millibars easterly gradient through the Gorge by tomorrow morning with 40-45kt wind just above the surface in the eastern metro area.  When I see 40kts+ on the cross-section, that screams 90-100+ mph wind on the Keely Chalmers Memorial Steps/Railing.  Both tomorrow and Friday should be big days up at Vista House, with possibly just as strong or stronger wind later Monday-Tuesday.  A splitting system approaching from the SW is often a good setup to really crank up the east wind…we’ll see.

Interesting to see that this high-res model picks up details never before seen in coarser resolution models.  Take a look at the windspeed forecast for the western Gorge and metro area tomorrow morning below.  Did you know the east wind (most of the time) also accelerates down the west side of the West Hills as well?  I wasn’t even aware of this until I took a job out at this station (north Beaverton) in 2000.  You can see it modeled quite well on the map.  Places like Bethany, Cedar Hills, Forest Heights, and the St. Vincent’s area all see the strongest east/northeast wind outside of areas east of I-205.  A new weather sensor installed at Bonney Slope Elementary School a couple years ago is right in the wind zone.  Keep an eye on that one in the next 24 hours.  It’s also somewhat obvious why the east wind sticks mainly over/south of the Columbia River in the metro area; because the Gorge is oriented SW-NE just to our east.  Similar to a hose pointing slightly south of horizontal.  Not the best explanation, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sunshine is the rule then tomorrow through Monday.  A splitting system attempts to move through the upper-level ridge along the West Coast on Tuesday, but we get little or no rain out of it.  After that the ridge rebuilds.  The ECMWF has no rainfall between now and week from Sunday (the 12th), the GFS just some light stuff on Tuesday.  So other than east wind, there is really no sensible weather to talk about through the next 9 days.

Just so I can make it a nice long post…here are the 4 new weekly ECMWF maps from last night’s 00z run:

They clearly show a change to cooler and wetter conditions for the 2nd half of the month.  I really like the last one, a classic;  just as Spring is about to begin (around March 1st) we get a nice cold upper-level troughing pattern.  Sounds familiar…

The GFS is a bit different, showing weak ridging remaining just to our west still on the 17th of February:

I still trust the ECMWF a bit more, it’s been more stable this winter.

And for fun…here is the 850mb ensemble chart for the next 16 days…over Kiev, Ukraine:

That’s cold!  But not so bad after the current cold spell I suppose?

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

6 Responses to Strongest East Wind Of “Winter” Moving In

  1. Karl Bonner says:

    Here’s to hoping that after the Tuesday bout of clouds and possible sprinkles, that when the ridge rebounds the increasing sun angle starts to really kick in and we get some more temps about the same as today or maybe 2-4 degrees warmer…for a really nice taste of spring before a cold and troughy pattern emerges to finish out the winter…

  2. A very pleasant 50.3/30.5 up here today. Currently 41.0 with a NE breeze.

  3. W7ENK says:

    Pretty windy in Milwaukie this afternoon, low DP is making it feel cold.

  4. vinnybob says:

    Mark, I think Highway 26 is like a little gorge, I’ve left Beaverton before and when I got to the top of Cedar Hills it was much windier. Raleigh Hills is another place with wind and is one of the last places to thaw out on the west side in ice events.

  5. Benjamin (West Salem) says:

    Thanks for the post! I appreciate the work you do to keep us entertained during this extended lull in the weather. I appreciate the work you do during busy/exciting times also 🙂

  6. umpire says:

    Yo, First! So, Mark, is this your last post of “winter”? At least with the sunny weather, I can pick up all the branches/needles/pine cones the east wind drops in my yard!

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