115 mph in Gorge Today; Windiest in Oregon So Far This Winter

January 20, 2014

A wild day at the western end of the Columbia River Gorge today.  Here are the peak gusts so far:

MarkEastWind_GorgeandMetro

This is a pure “gap wind” event with the strongest wind confined to a very narrow area centered within a mile of the Columbia River and the Gorge from Troutdale to Multnomah Falls.  The 115 mph gust was recorded on a Maximum anemometer (quality equipment) by Matt Sloan sitting in a car at the base of the steps on Vista House.  The 83 mph gust at Vista House is not reliable (too weak) because the anemometer is swinging around on its mast.  It is bent at quite an angle and not working properly for that reason.  The 80 mph gust at Corbett Elementary School is the strongest gust there since I’ve been involved with it.  At least since 2009.  We’ve seen stronger wind gusts at the other locations on the map; mainly during the east wind storm of January 2009 (click on link to see speeds).  At that time the Corbett sensor gusted to 79 mph and we saw 50-60 mph gusts spread well into Troutdale, Gresham, and even East Portland.

The cold pool east of the Cascades really thickened the last 24 hours…did anyone notice Redmond went from a high of 58 yesterday to 27 today?  That’s quite a change!

MarkEastWind_ExplainWinterPattern_wRedmond

Looking ahead, the wind will die down quite a bit the next 48 hours as a weak system moves through our upper-level ridge.  But the ridge won’t go anywhere and will just bounce back Thursday-Sunday.  With little or no erosion of the cold pool eastside, the strong east wind will return through the 2nd half of the week.  This should keep persistent fog and low clouds away from most of the metro area for lots of sunshine through the weekend.

Models all show the ridge at least somewhat disappearing next week.  ECMWF is a little wetter than the ridgier looking GFS.  In a nod to the ECMWF I finally put rain in the 7 Day forecast for next Monday.  We’ll see if that really shows up.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


ECMWF Weekly Maps

January 20, 2014

Last night’s ECMWF run out to one month.  Looks like the ridge is pretty much gone after this week, replaced by weak troughing the following 3 weeks.  Hmmm, GFS isn’t so sure.  Some sort of pattern change ahead but not sure what:

500za_week1_bg_NA

500za_week2_bg_NA

500za_week3_bg_NA

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Get To Vista House! 100+ gusts likely today

January 20, 2014

Big surprise this morning, extremely strong east wind event in progress at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge.  I just checked the Corbett wind sensor:

screenID005

Wow!  I haven’t seen an 80 on there in the last 10 years!  For comparison, during the 2010 “Keely Chalmers Wind”, the peak speed was around 72 mph at this location.  There was a 78 at that location during the 2008 windstorm, and I think it was 78 during the damaging east wind event in January 2009.  Why so strong suddenly?  Not sure exactly why, but the gradient is up to 9 millibars and we have a strong inversion.  The wind must be getting squeezed through a very narrow channel in the atmosphere quite close to the river.  The high wind area must be even more localized than normal.  Vista House sensor was getting tilted (bent) in the past month, and I’m guessing it is  just be flipping around half-broken.  That might account for the unusually low readings compared to Corbett.

Anyway, get up there and enjoy the strongest east wind of the season!  Just dress warm, wind chill is around 20 degrees.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen