Strongest Gorge Wind Since January 2009

It’s been a crazy 24 hours at the western end of the Columbia River Gorge and far eastern suburbs of the Portland Metro area.  Take a look at the peak wind gusts:

Troutdale Airport: 44
SE Troutdale (near MHCC): 59 (highest since Jan 2009)
Washougal: 56
Corbett School: 75 (highest since Jan 2009)
Corbett:  85 (private anemometer very exposed)
Vista House: 89 (higher than last winter)
Biddle Butte: 69 (higher than last winter if memory is correct)

The anemometer on the Corbett school has been there for over 12 years, and only one other time has gone above 74 mph.  That was during the big east wind storm in early January 2009.  No, not the “Keely Chalmers Incident” in January 2010, that one was a bit weaker with only a gust around 65 mph in Corbett.  The big 2009 event saw gusts 50-60 mph spread well into Gresham, Orient, and east Portland.  Definitely not as strong this time around in those areas, but the strongest we’ve seen in several years.

I don’t think it gusted above 82 mph last winter on the Vista House sensor (correct me if I’m wrong!).  Due to it being such a historic and photographed structure, the anemometer only sticks out about 1 foot from the building, thus the lower than expected windspeeds.  From last winter, we know 75-80 mph on that sensor is about 100 mph on the steps, so I bet we were up in the 110-115 category up there late last night and this morning.  That area remains off-limits until construction ends in about a month.

Speaking of construction, I drove down there to get the sensor working this morning, and look what showed up in the 10 minutes between the drive down and back!  Luckily the construction guys pushed it out of the way with a backhoe.

As I mentioned on Facebook, when your time is up, it’s up.  Apparently it wasn’t quite time for me.  But I don’t think my little car would’ve handled a 2 foot diameter maple tree very well.  The large deer was bad enough.

Anyway, models have handled this east wind episode very badly, consistently showing the easterly gradient dropping way off YESTERDAY and very little wind today.  It will slowly drop off the next few days, but not fast enough for those of you already tired of the wind!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

122 Responses to Strongest Gorge Wind Since January 2009

  1. Mr. Donut says:

    You guys got your priorities all wrong:


    It’s December:30 – we need a dump!!

  2. paulbeugene says:

    To give you an idea of the uncertainty involved…check out the Canadian ensembles…60 hour surface map….one of those would give 80mph+ gusts to PDX…whereas another one would give 15mph breeze from the NW.

  3. Wrf gfs splits the energy from that shortwave into two volt maxes, instead of one system. One low center tracks over Olympic peninsula, other thru central OR. Suspect the northern lobe more likely to win out vs vice versa. Although it may split as the gfs suggests. Would put my money as follows: 60% north system wins with low center 978 tatoosh (HWW puget sound), 15% south system predominates with 982 mb into Florence (HWW south valley), 25% split weaker systems with no real wind issue.

    • Who has the guts to take the south side of my wager? Takes a lot of guts, as over the years, ive learned one rule we all know in out hearts is true: any system of substance always end of north of where you want it (nov 85, dec 96, nov 2010, 1/12, you get the picture). Painful but true

    • I’ll add inauguration day storm to the list. I foolishly went home from uw to my folks in the ‘couv, only to watch with my brother the clouds flying by at 900mb, while the wind did not surface PDX area. Poisonous tail (bent back occlusion) bit puget sound in the ass, and I missed it (gust 85 at UW)

    • I dunno. Not really a betting man. But systems do tend to curl to the north, specially when they really wind up. So assuming this whole thing pans out….I’m going with the track to the north. But then again…..I failed miserably at last night’s Powerball 🙂

    • paulbeugene says:

      I bought a powerball ticket last night, used the numbers 9, 16, 19, 30, 37, 50….anyone guess how I picked those numbers

    • You teach grade school math? (number patterns) Fractals anyone?

    • W7ENK says:

      I’ll venture a guess… Those were the ensemble members that showed the greatest potential for exciting weather?

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      Those numbers were all winters that either had bitter cold and or big time snow and ice (Dec 19, Jan 37 or Jan 50).

  4. Smithsky says:

    There is a great Bible Verse that applies to weather. Ecclesiastes 8:7. “If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when (what) will happen”. Keeps life exciting doesn’t it? I really hope for some great weather this year. Will keep reading all these blogs but very rarely do I have time to add anything. I have to say I appreciate how much I have learned from trhis blog and those who love and study weather. My son now is becoming a weather buff also because he sees me spending so much time reading this.


  5. paulbeugene says:

    GFS 00Z has a more SW to NE track than the NAM otherwise seems about the same in terms of pressure (around 988mb)…will look at the mm5 when it comes out.

  6. Lala land colder weather now looking like it may happen. Not quite as cold i was hoping for but should still be good for snow/rain mix at least highs 174 hrs and later high temps struggle to get out of mid 30. Now if we can take those highs down just a little more it may be a real winter wonderland around here.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I don’t see any model giving us highs in the mid 30s or lower (or even below 40) in the next 10 days. What are you looking at?

    • It”s mid 30 low 40 range 18 .G.F.S. More of a cold rain maybe a snow rain mix at times. Still long ways out so hopefully it bring back some of the colder temps.

    • W7ENK says:

      Mark, I think he was looking at the MIU model? Not sure if it was the MIU-AYG or the MIU-OTF, but either way I’m certain they both show some pretty wild weather in the long range.

    • Chris s says:

      I think he is just looking at extracted numbers on gfs?? Or seriously wishcasting. Probably should enroll in a grammar class, as his posts are painful to read.

    • Hey, Chris? The rudeness is not needed c’mon….

    • Smithsky says:

      Rob, I appreciate the encouraging way you handle some of the comments. It is important to remember we have no idea as to the age or background of the people posting. This should be a safe place for everyone to enjoy weather.

      Now on to a question. It seems the models alway error on the lows being centered to far south and they almost always end up going further north to Vancouver Island. So, isn’t it a good thing that the lows are looking like they will be south and will probably mover further north.

      I am not a weather genious by any means. This is just my two cents worth. I love this blog and very rarely post.


    • Chris s says:

      Ya maybe I came off a bit rude, my bad. However, it is scary that a grown adult cannot construct a simple sentence.

    • @ Chris Think he just looks at extracting numbers on gfs?? Or seriously Wishcasting. Probably should enroll in a grammar class, as his posts are painful to read.

  7. runrain says:

    They’re singing this in San Francisco tonight – sung to the CCR’s tune Proud Mary:

    Seen a lot of frontal boundaries,
    Watchin’ them bomb way out at sea,
    But I never saw the dump we’re gonna get,
    Till I saw the storms a pointin’ at me

    Raindrops will be a thumpin’
    Storms they will keep on dumpin’
    Atmospheric River

  8. runrain says:

    Apparently the area just to the southeast of Brookings is getting hammered pretty heavily tonight with some convection type rain and associated thunderstorms. Frequent lightning according to Cantore of the Weather Channel.

  9. paulbeugene says:

    NAM track is about 40 miles north of South Valley Surprise 2002, but 10mb deeper.

    time to issue the High Wind Watch Warning….would upgrade to High Wind Warning Watch if GFS on board

    55-65mph gusts…maybe.

  10. 00z MM5-NAM
    Saturday 4:00 PM
    Wave just now beginning to develop near 39.8 N, 139 W.

    I’ll post more info as the run progresses….

  11. La la land looks interesting. 8.5 – 16 day GFS hmm.

  12. WEATHERDAN says:

    If we keep getting this much rain over say the next 10 days or so then I think we are in for a bad flood. A couple of weeks ago in a similar situation the rivers were much lower than now. 6-10 inches over the next ten days would not be good news. I’m hoping the snow level drop to somewhere in the 2-3k range. Then the ski resorts would have a great base and a flood would be unlikely. At 6-7k however a large flood in Oregon seems to me to be a good possibility. And for what it’s worth I am hoping for no wind event. Seeing Sandy’s damage has put me off local windstorms for this season. But yes for a big snowstorm.

  13. W7ENK says:

    Strange, my latest comment seems to have disappeared into the Ether…nets? o_O

    Let’s try this again:

    Some NWS Weather Spotter training opportunities coming up.

    Too bad they can’t spell Milwaukie. 😦

  14. Seattle NWS AFD sheds a little light on the low pressure system for Sunday. The southern track they suggest may deliver a Wind event/storm for PDX.


    All eyes on 00z runs tonight.
    00z NAM begins in 1 hour 20 minutes
    00z GFS in 3 hours 10 minutes
    00z ECMWF in 6 hours 29 minutes

  15. runrain says:

    A pleasant day out there really. The little bit of rain this morning and then pretty much dry and light winds the rest of today. 50° actually feels warm today after the cooler and windier days prior.

  16. 18z GFS now showing the low Sunday developing further north roughly 987mb(Likely 4-6mb deeper on hi-res)
    FCST HR 66 just west of Newport

    FCST HR 69 moves over Long Beach, WA

    This is the first run of the GFS to suggest this low moves north instead of plowing through southern Oregon, then over to Northeast Oregon. Interesting. I can’t wait until 00z tonight….

  17. pappoose in scappoose says:

    At least when the models are confused, we have hope!

    National Weather Service Seattle Washington
    1049 am PST Thursday Nov 29 2012

    There has been little consistency both run to run and between the
    models on the track of the surface low for Sunday. While the
    surface low moving through western Washington scenario that was
    present on the European model (ecmwf) two nights ago is gone there is a weaker low on the European model (ecmwf) with some decent pressure rises behind it could result in a windy day. The 00z GFS run leaves the low more to the south and is a little weaker with the pressure rises. The 06z NAM has a 986 mb low near Portland at 18z on Sunday. For now will stay with the broadbrush rain at times forecast and not mention any wind.

  18. paulbeugene says:

    Wrapping things up….
    looking at the models…Euro…UKMET, NAM, GFS, NOGAPS….trend is for some sort of a low to rapidly track from SW OR NE/ENE across Cascades toward Columbia Basin or NE OR

    There is a significant amount of uncertainty 72 hours out as to what will happen…low may not develop much at all and stay well to the south of KPTV land…or it may start to bomb out inside of 128-130W and veer off on a more northerly track and give us strong winds.

    Vegas odds on strong winds are Klamath Falls east to Burns.

    18Z, 00Z, 06Z still to come…and so on.

    Ensembles clearly do not support the 12Z GFS operational arctic intrusion.

    • Agreed. I think we’re in for a surprise to be honest.

    • W7ENK says:

      I agree with your Vegas odds, Paul. This thing stays well to the South of PDX and the Willamette Valley. The Low will likely come ashore somewhere between Coos Bay and Brookings, pass between Roseburg and Grants Pass, cross the Cascades to the North of Crater Lake, and work its way across the High Desert well to the East of Bend. Areas South of the Low’s center get high winds. We don’t.

      I wish it would veer North and into the coast between Tillamöök and Astoria though… I need some weather excitement!

    • germantownsummit1000' says:

      Must be a hella low to be capitalized like that.

    • W7ENK says:

      Haha! Oops… 😳

      Yes, it’s a proper noun, low pressure system Low. Aren’t we naming them now??

  19. SnowedIn - North Plains says:

    There must be some strong south winds aloft, the clouds are moving at a pretty good clip towards the north. Interestingly we have a light east wind at ground level right now…

  20. paulbeugene says:

    12Z GFS Ensembles in:

    3 or may 4 of the 12 ensemble members show strong winds as far N as Eugene. Frame on second row, third column looks scary. Overall GFS less supportive of windstorm in Willamette Valley but we are not off the hook.

  21. paulbeugene says:

    Check out the Canadian ensembles (12Z) for 72 hours….plenty of reason to be concerned. Willamette Valley not out of woods for windstorm. The GEM2 run would be a serious windstorm from Eugene towards Portland.

  22. 12z GEM is identical to GFS. 987mb low southern Oregon, then moves into northeast Oregon ..
    Hope for better Cyclogenesis inside 128 W if you like windstorms in PDX…

  23. Seems the front just kicked through as my temp has went up. It must be kicking out this low level cold air delivered from the gorge.

    I had been hovering around 41 all morning, now it’s up to 46 in the last 15 minutes.

  24. paulbeugene says:

    GFS back to showing a storm affecting Oregon early Sunday morning….NAM shows this too.. (see Rob’s post). This could be another south valley surprise.
    The mm5 GFS shows the low tracking NE across SW OR into central Oregon. At 69 hours it is 990mb and off shore of Cape Blanco, then at 72 hours it is 984mb and crossing Cascades toward Bend! That is 6 mb deepening in 3 hours or 10mb in 6 hours. That suggests a tight low pressure center with potential for strong winds to the S of its path. If this low heads farther N then at least south Willamette valley at risk of a windstorm. However… The track as advertised would result in very strong winds areas E of Cascades in SE Oregon…note the 75 knot gusts on mm5 over SE Oregon.

    • Nice analysis, particularly with the Mm5. I agree perhaps south valley surprise part 2, or if it undergoes stronger cyclogenesis inside 128 W shift the strong winds into Willamette Valley…. Still undetermined.. Onto 12z ECMWF ….

  25. 12z GFS 500mb pattern FCST HR 120.

    I can’t say for sure, but this looks promising. Look how the trough is digging and its orientation, how the ridge is building over the central US, likely transitory so will translate east. Look at the ridge near 165 W. Everything depends on the strong energy about to come out of the Bering Sea. I’m sure this will progress as the previous 942323829382 runs have with that ridge slipping under the developing shortwave and leading to nothing favorable….

  26. Good morning,

    Maybe last night’s 00z GEM(Canadian) run was onto something? What and the heck is he talking about you say.

    Sunday, December 2nd(FCST HR 84)

    A strong 975mb low moves onshore near Tillamook. This would probably give PDX a windstorm. Now, up to this point really no other model suggested this possibility. They did show an area of low pressure around roughly the same time frame, but they projected it to be weaker and moving inland well to the south over southern Oregon or even northern California.

    However, I just looked at 6z, 12z NAM. 12z NAM shows this same low now with the same exact track, trajectory, and placement. It is a bit weaker, but this makes things mildly interesting.

    6z GFS however is not handling the wave the same, in fact it barely develops it at all scooting it eastward across the southern half of Oregon.

    Awaiting 12z GFS/GEM/ECMWF runs to see what they show.

  27. runrain says:

    Wonder who will be the first PDX met to do a Gangham Style weather forecast…

  28. bgb41 says:

    11/28/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:65 at Port Orford( 0 ft)
    Low: 53 at BROOKINGS(79 ft)

    High:29 at METOLIUS ARM(3440 ft) & KB7CPC Grass Val(2398 ft) & WASCO BUTTE(2272 ft) & MIDDLE MTN(2544 ft) & Kent (US 97 MP 4(2705 ft) & HEHE 1(2679 ft) & CW7527 Condon(2838 ft)
    Low: 17 at Rome (4049 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 31 degrees
    DANNER (50/19) (4225ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.98″ at QUAIL PRAIRIE LO(3183ft)
    0.85″ at RED MOUND(1753ft)
    0.61″ at AGNESS2(247ft)

  29. paulbeugene says:

    The 11-15 day GFS ensemble suggests we may be headed toward at least toward a relatively cooler period than what we have recently experienced (the cool gorge outflow regime/inversion being an exception). This is not a suggestion that we are going to have an arctic blast in second week of December…merely points to us not being blowtorched…should wind up near or a bit below normal.

    Looking at MM5, seems that OR and WA will be sharing in the rain so that no one region gets hosed on an ongoing basis…good news if you don’t like flooding….over the next 5-7 days.

  30. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Paulb mentioned this earlier, more pineapples?

    National Weather Service Portland or
    902 PM PST Wednesday Nov 28 2012

    The last couple of days….models indicate the likelihood of an atmospheric river event setting up for Tuesday and Wednesday next week…which will bring the possibility of heavy
    rainfall and potential for another round of high water on area
    rivers. Tw

  31. Goducks09 says:

    00z GFS adds a little something to talk about starting day 7. We’re getting closer to something mildly entertaining.

  32. Overcast and boring down here. No wind!! 😦

  33. I like the wind! Keep it coming. Makes everything clean. 🙂

  34. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Mark Nelsen is UNSTOPPABLE!!! Hahaah!

  35. Sifton says:

    Your a brave brave man Mark Nelsen!! Salue……..

  36. Dean 1200ft Biddle Butte says:

    Biddle Butte Sensor is 200ft higher and about a quarter mile from my place. I folllowed Biddle Butte last winter and it peaked at 65mph. Briefly Lost power today just after that 69mph peak gust. Temperature has been hovering around freezing all day.

    Great having the BPA sensor so close to our place. No dedicated internet at home, so i never set up a weather station.

    This will be our second winter here and i am starting to think about a windmill……….

  37. W7ENK says:


    • W7ENK says:

      And with regard to Facebook (since you mentioned them in your post here), they really effed up today!!

      As a victim of this latest “bug” myself, I can’t help but wonder what legal ramifications Facebook might face if anyone ended up, say, “accidentally” put in violation of a restraining order, or “accidentally” disclosing sensitive information that’s protected by a legally binding NDA or something? It’s entirely possible. TOS agreements being what they are, they’re useless to protect a company against litigation, and can be easily superseded if a judge says so. Facebook could be liable for MILLIONS in restitution over this! >_<

      I'll bet Facebook's lawyers are shifting bricks at pucker-factor fifty-five this afternoon… 😆

    • lurkyloo says:

      “Pucker-factor 55?” Haaaaaa!!!! You made a funny! Don’t know what’s going on with Facebook, but I do know that when I was little and I might accidentally “pass one” my Grammy would tell me that I needed to “tighten up that pucker-string.”

      Weather- related: Sure is brisk out there, isn’t it?

  38. lurkyloo says:

    (Raising hand) Me tired of wind.

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