Today’s peak gust of 47 mph at PDX was the strongest since a 48 mph southerly gust a little over a year ago.
Two thoughts on that:
1) We don’t get strong wind much anymore. The last real windstorm here in the metro area was over 7 years ago; December 2006.
2) East wind gusts in the 35-45 mph range don’t produce nearly as many power outages as the same speeds from the south. That’s because over a good chunk of the Portland metro area trees are used to a regular beating from east wind during the winter. It looks like there were only around 5,000 PGE customers out of power at the peak of the wind early this afternoon. Compare that to 10-20,000 with similar speeds from the south.
It was enough to tip a traveling manufactured home off a semi trailer and almost into the Columbia River.
Can you guess where? Of course, the “scary when it’s windy” Glen Jackson bridge on I-205. There used to be a functioning ODOT wind sensor there, but apparently it doesn’t work anymore. Observations from the site only show temp now. On the flip side, I see a new ODOT sensor is working at the Sunset Transit Center at Hwy26 & 217 is working now. That’s the windiest spot along that highway with an east wind.
The wind spread out across the whole metro area today, as we (and models) forecast. A 39 mph from the east is a respectable speed in Hillsboro! The pressure gradient through the Columbia River Gorge has been up around 9 millibars today and should stay about the same or just weaken a bit tomorrow.
Temperatures in the atmosphere overhead will warm quite a bit tomorrow (stronger inversion). That means the wind should back off quite a bit in the metro area; probably peak gusts in the 25-35 mph range instead of what we saw today. But at the same time the wind will INCREASE quite a bit through the Gorge since the inversion will squeeze the windflow into a smaller area. Should be a raging day with 70+ mph gusts at Corbett and 75-80 mph gusts on that poor sideways sensor at Vista House. That means up around 100 mph gusts on “the steps”.
Other than that…sunshine through the weekend and maybe into part of Monday too. Then a change, more on that later.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen