NWS reports a peak gust of 62 mph at PDX Airport. That’s the strongest wind gust we’ve seen in that location since the January 2000 windstorm. Some other very strong wind gusts out there at this hour. This is what I have so far for the northern Willamette Valley:
Some bad news. Apparently the airport (ASOS) weather sensors do not have backup power so Hillsboro, Aurora, and McMinville stopped reporting. That’s pretty bad for a wind sensor to stop reading in the middle of the storm! Can’t they just buy a UPS backup? So we don’t know for now if those locations were windier than the 3pm observations.
This wind is big-time overachieving for the gradient. There is only a 5 millibar gradient from Eugene to Portland and 9 millibars from Eugene to Olympia. Most of the time that would give us gusts to…20 or so miles per hour. The speed of the low pressure and strong upper level winds surfacing are definitely more important this time around.
Another note, the outage numbers don’t appear to reflect widespread 60+ mph gusts. Still only around 60,000 PGE customers out. During the 2006 storm with “lighter” wind, there were 200,000+! I have a feeling that we’re just seeing scattered spots with strong wind surfacing instead of a widespread damaging wind.
Nevertheless, a crazy afternoon!
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen