Storm Hammers Puget Sound

Models did real well forecasting the big windstorm up in Puget Sound Saturday.  200,000 customers lost electricity at one point in the storm and peak gusts hit 50-60 mph from Seattle north.  Sea-Tac had a gust to 59 mph, which is higher than anything Portland has seen since 2000!  In fact PDX has not seen a southerly wind gust higher than 53 mph in 13 years!


The windstorm and flooding weather action has definitely been mainly to our north for the past decade.  Not sure why, but I’ve noticed it since at least the December 2006 windstorm here.  That’s the one where Seattle saw a gust to 69 mph and Portland saw a gust all the way to…53 mph.  You can read all about it on Wolf Read’s windstorm site:

Take a look at this video from KING-TV showing the closed floating bridge at the height of the storm:

Althougth I think I like this video better, it explains one of the reasons a new bridge is under construction, or will be soon:

The main story here over the weekend was the mountain snow.  Looks like 12-18″ has fallen at the higher ski resorts and 9″ down at Government Camp.  A nice start to the ski season…not too bad for November 4th.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

51 Responses to Storm Hammers Puget Sound

  1. Andrew (Near Silver Falls 1600') says:

    44/40 today with 0.23″ of rain.

  2. Justin (Bellingham) says:

    It’s remarkable how few windstorms Portland gets nowadays in comparison to the 1950s and 60s.

    Looking at past weather obs, 60-70mph wind events were an annual thing in Portland back in the day. Numerous storms that have been lost to history but would put the modern stuff we get to shame. January 29, 1967, February 5, 1965, March 27, 1963, December 17, 1961, February 24, 1958, the list goes on and on.

  3. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Looking at the the most recent ENSO update, it appears that Erik might have been right in his prediction. The over all likelyhood of El nino seems to be fading. And tropical sea surface temps may remain slightly below average after all………..touche’ NOAA, in your eye!

  4. paulbeugene says:

    Looking at the ensemble model runs out to about 240h, looks like very strong 500mb positive anomalies are setting up over the Aleutian Island chain. That does not do much for very cold air here but overall a good setup for significant cool maritime showery precipitation pattern. That strong of a positive ridge likely would lead to retrogression of the upper low/trough centered off our coast and eventual pinching off of the high center as westerlies undercut the ridge from the west Pacific. That can be a relatively active weather scenario with all kinds of possibilities…windstorms, high precipitation/flooding events. I do not see this is as a “pre-arctic” configuration. Similar ridging pattern over G of AK in November was followed by arctic event in Dec 1964 2-3 weeks later. November 1970…5-6 weeks later although that was more of an extremely cold maritime snow pattern in Jan 1971 for Oregon. Nov 1950 also similar…but no arctic air until two months later.

    Still think it is a good possibility that enough snow will pile up to open the ski areas for Thanksgiving but that could end up being something not to be thankful for if we get retrograding trough with SW moist flow and flooding pattern..classic November weather for the Northwest.

    Nov 12-20 has high odds of a windstorm or flooding or both.

    No arctic until at least first week Dec.

  5. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    As awesome as the 2006 storm was… I actually was more impressed with (I think it was) the 2007 storm. The one that lashed the coast for over a day straight, brought tons of rain and snow and flooded Vernonia.

    Not that I’d advocate the destruction of a town… But it was a very impressive storm in its own right. Plus that was the one that Jim Cantore covered in person and seemed legitimately impressed with the Pacific storms we get… Back when that actually had any value.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      The 2007 storm was definitely much stronger on the north coast, but much weaker in the metro area.

    • nathan says:

      How far in advance did the local weatherman know of the big windstorm of 1995? I remember the local schools in vancouver wa being cancelled the day of and before the 12th. Is that possible to ever happen again?Just seems like so many predictions but nothing like that kind of warning has happened since.

    • Punxsutawney aka HIOPHIL in Hillsboro says:

      I think some of the TV mets were saying that it could be a big one some 3 or 4 days out. I remember watching Matt Z. (sorry Mark) showing a zonal pacific jet with 3 or 4 waves in it and him saying the third one would be the strongest. I think that was three or days before it got here.

    • Punxsutawney aka HIOPHIL in Hillsboro says:

      Sorry, barely able to write this evening. Three days, not three or…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I remember thinking about it the night we had an ice storm in the Gorge…a Thursday night I think. The storm was on Tuesday midday/afternoon. So yes, I think it was well-advertised for at least 3-4 days. Back then we only had decent confidence 3-5 days out.

  6. Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

    Topped out at a balmy 49.0° here today after an overnight low of 44.4°. This marks the first sub-50° high at my weather station since March 22nd, 227 days ago.

  7. archangelmichael2 says:

    I’ve noticed that too about windstorms in the last decade being mostly Northern Washington events.

    The damage would’ve been 2 times worse if Oregon had gotten what Seattle had during the 2006 event. We narrowly escaped.

    I also recall there was suppose to be snow down to 500 with rain/snow mix on the valley floor right after the Windstorm with the wishcasters *You know who you are!* telling people to stock up on batteries and flashlights as well as generators because of cold weather that never happened.

    Many people on this blog thought it was going to go down to the low 20s at night after the windstorm making it miserable for those without power/heat.

  8. Aloha Rainshadow says:

    Hey Mark, you seeing the 500mb setup hour 240 progged by the GFS and Euro? Definitely a setup to watch for possibly PDX windstorms to spin up in the SWerly flow…maybe you’ll get your overdue storm this year afterall if the models are hinting in the correct direction.

  9. melissa meacham says:

    ty mark

  10. Peak gust at my house was 54 mph.

  11. Greg Carstens says:


    My wind reached 29 mph here in Southeast Tacoma but my step brother came over from Port Orchard and said his power was out all morning. I have no idea about the evening out there on the Kitsap Peninsula but I do know that the winds were higher out that way. As I mentioned to a few people on the Facebook groups, I felt it would be a Northern Washington Coast and also Northwest Interior event. I was not quite close enough to the low center to get the bigger winds that some experienced with this event and I didn’t hear about any power issues in Tacoma. It appears all the casualties were north of Downtown Seattle pretty much even though the bridges got really battered pretty good.

  12. Kenny says:

    The new 12z EURO. The is one big L pressure system. Never seen such deep blue colors,is that sub 500 thickness? Hmm…..

  13. The wind always blows harder out that way (east of 205) ask my brother in law, as it’s always hotter, colder, wetter, dryer, snowier hm is that a word?

  14. BoringOregon says:

    Ahhh, you in!!!

  15. The wind always blows harder out that way ask my brother in law, as it’s always hotter, colder, wetter, dryer, snowier hm is that a word?

  16. schmit44 says:

    What I found interesting about the Dec 14 2006 event was the fact that KVUO had a wind gust to 79 mph yet nearby KPDX got nowhere near that strong of gusts.

    • Rob - Southeast Portland says:

      We had 5-6 hours of 60-65mph gusts out this way east of I-205. Also, that storm particularly hit areas east of I-205 the hardest compared to those west of there and I-5. Complete reversal back with the big 1995 wind storm where it nailed locations west of I-5 and it was not bad at all out this way.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      KVUO only had 49 mph. All ASOS units were 45-60 mph. in the metro area. Here are Wolf’s notes: Peak gusts measured at official stations throughout the Willamette Valley ranged from 48 mph at Corvallis to 58 mph at Troutdale, with the other stations falling between these values. The consistency of peak gusts among the official stations, with most ranging between 53 and 55 mph, speaks loudly to the soundness of these measurements. Plus, given past wind behavior in the Valley during storms of similar track and intensity, the official wind speeds are also consistent. Even if many stations peaked just a few mph below high-wind criteria, Troutdale’s peak gust verifies the high-wind warning issued by the NWS, Portland, ahead of the storm in anticipation of possible gusts of 65 mph (gusts to 58 mph are the minimum for high-wind criteria).

      Interestingly, there were a number of spotter reports that were much higher than the official readings in the Valley. Some of these strong unofficial readings were in higher terrain, like the West Hills of Portland (G 65 mph), and this likely explains the difference. However, an 80 mph gust was recorded 5 miles NNE of Salem, and gusts as high as 70 mph were reported in the vicinity of Forest Grove. Given these very high readings relative to the official numbers, it would be interesting to know the site conditions of these wind sensors. Local terrain features, and/or, the sensor placement relative to nearby structures may have had a bearing in these higher speeds.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      And that said, I never did believe the 80 mph gust around Brooks (5 NE Salem)…there should have been severe tree/home damage if that was the case. But maybe it was a real localized gust?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      One more note on 2006. At that time ASOS was still on the 10 year-long 5-sec peak gust recording. It was changed back to 2 or 3 seconds gusts a couple years later. So it’s probably fair to say on the current equipment PDX probably would have recorded a gust closer to 60 mph and Troutdale 60-65. I know the Corbett school sensor peaked at 60mph on a Davis unit. Very strong for a south wind there.

    • Rob - Southeast Portland says:

      You can look back to blog postings and when I reported the 95mph gust at Rockhouse(west of Salem) I was freaking out LOL and a few minutes later is when the stuff hit the fan.

    • powerlifter says:

      If Vancouver had a gust to 79, it would be the strongest wind recorded there since Columbus Day.

      The December 2006 storm was great though in most of CC. Lasted longer than many of the previous ones we’ve had.

    • archangelmichael2 says:

      That’s out by the Wheatland Ferry! Winds that high of winds *80mph* would’ve snapped the ferry off it’s guide cables giving people the Willamette River Run Edition!

      The ferry operates till 9:45am every night.

    • archangelmichael2 says:

      I mean 9:45pm! I got interrupted by someone bothering me while typing and screwed myself up so don’t bully me for it!!! :p

      Jeezus I hate the format of this blog where you type a comment in then try to find it and it’s become a maze because of the frames.

      If only their was a way to remove the frames so scrolling would be much easier.

    • Andrew (Near Silver Falls 1600') says:

      The December 2006 windstorm was pretty strong down here in the mid-valley. We my dad had a couple of oaks fall and a pretty big blow down of about 40 year old douglas firs. 80 mph though? Definitely not. Maybe 65 though.

  17. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Thanks for the update, Mark.

    Yep, Western Washington this year has scored with every type of active or significant weather compared to us down south. I know some places had 20 t-storms late Spring though Summer, but then they get the icing on the cake to so speak with this wind storm.

    You in!

  18. Sifton says:

    My 1st 1st!

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