Windiest October Day Since 1967: Storm Wrap-Up

6pm Saturday…

The wind warnings are all now cancelled in Oregon…as the wind has subsided.  Take a look at that…the highest October wind gust we’ve seen here since a 70 mph gust in 1967.  There was a gust to 52 mph on different wind equipment late October 1994, but that’s the problem with comparing historical windspeeds.  It’s possible either this or that one was really the higher gust, but for sure it’s fair to say this is one of the two windiest October days I’ve seen in my lifetime here!   That shows you how rare an October windstorm is in the valleys.


Other peak metro gusts…


Northern Willamette Valley…


A few things that stick out:

This was just an average “windstorm” for any winter here in the I-5 corridor EXCEPT that it happened in mid October!  44,000 PGE power outages at the peak

This was almost a perfect windstorm forecast for the metro area, both timing and speeds.  Last night I said 45-55 mph, then dropped it to 40-50 mph at the last minute.  That’s fine because only 3 of 7 metro area official reports made it to 50 mph.  Very happy with the metro forecast.


Wow, this one was way off.  Tillamook and Astoria had lighter gusts than Portland!  It was widely forecast and promoted as a major storm for the Oregon Coast, even if it was wintertime.  Not even close!




Coastal cities were generally in the 50-65 mph range.  We forecast 70-90, or even 70-100.  Sure, that exposed tower out at Barview Jetty in Garibaldi hit 77, but that’s about it.  The two big speeds in the 80s are up above 1,000′.  By the way, Mary’s Peak west of Corvallis went over 100 mph, but that’s not unusual during a windstorm…that’s in the mountains.

What happened?  The low tracked farther offshore, thus the south to north gradient was far weaker along the coastline.  Check out the 6pm forecast (right now) from this morning’s WRF-GFS run:


Pressure should be under 970 millibars on that northwest section of the Olympic Peninsula.  Instead the pressure is over 10 millibars higher!  981 mb right now at Forks, WA.  That’s a huge difference.  And check out the low well offshore, shown by the radar at Ocean Shores…


Right now there is an 18 millibar pressure gradient from Coos Bay to Forks.  The forecast was for 28 millibars!

There was also that strong hing on the gradient field that the wind might be much more closely confined to the low center than normal…leftovers from it’s tropical days?  Probably not but something to think about.

This storm stayed farther offshore and made a landfall farther north than expected = weaker wind at the coastline.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


64 Responses to Windiest October Day Since 1967: Storm Wrap-Up

  1. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

    Best storm here in a long time. I believe the report of over 2 inches in an hour. Again, ridiculous for fox 12 and the other stations to say nothing?? Mark should have a post on this storm because it was fukking amazing. It missed downtown so he says nothing. I’m telling you, this was a special storm. The thunder was rare. We don’t get that but every 5-10 years.

  2. W7ENK says:

    1.56″ Thursday
    0.92″ Friday
    0.56″ Saturday
    0.50″ Sunday
    1.52″ Monday

    5.06″ Total since this whole “storm” thing began.

    8.90″ for the month, so far. Only one day without measurable rainfall (11th). It’s been a really wet October.

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    Is Portland Radar down. Appears only Seattle and Medford radar is working. It’s been pouring about an hour and the radar shows nothing between Wilsonville to prolly Cottage Grove from the Coast to Cascades.

    Also has anybody had problems posting. I keep having it say problem with the website and so it was reloaded when I try to post. After about 3 attempts it works…

  4. runrain says:

    Whoa! Big flash then thunder just west of Happy Valley!

  5. Nice break to blue skies late this afternoon and a rainbow seen on the NE horizon. Quite a lot of showers today, but no lightning seen or thunder heard.

  6. Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

    Had a thunderstorm cluster make a direct hit over the dome around 12:45 and didn’t quit for over an hour. Just kept training over the area for that long 🙂
    One of the better thunder and lightning events I’ve seen over the last year and maybe even the last 2-3 years.

  7. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

    I’ll give you guys a first account of the storm today as I was right in the center. I got off work in downtown Gladstone today, right on Portland Ave. I attempted to walk to go get some lunch and the heavy rain and hail hit. Then I saw streaks of lightning I haven’t seen in at least 3 years. Followed by thunder that made me jump every time. I had to hull up in a bus stop cover and I stayed there for the next hour. It wouldn’t let up and when you thought it was breaking down the clouds just kept backbuilding. Mcloughlin was literally a lake for about an hour. Those of you that know the area, I ventured out and glen echo blvd. was impassable. The thunder and lightning was the most intense I’ve seen in this area ever. Can’t wait to see the rain totals.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Ya right. That could only happen in places like Miami, OKC, Houston, etc. etc. sounds like the apocalypse is upon us.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      224 PM PDT MON OCT 17 2016



  8. W7ENK says:

    Missed the big thunderstorm in downtown, or rather, the big thunderstorm missed downtown. Didn’t even know it was going on until an iNWS alert came in for flooding, post facto. Then saw everyone on FB blowing up about it…


  9. pappoose in scappoose says:

    1218 PM PDT MON OCT 17 2016



  10. WEATHERDAN says:

    So far this month 7.48. Record is 11.17 in 1947. We need 3.69 inches to tie. That is about .26 per day. Since Thursday we have had 5.51 inches of rain. Enough already. Peace.

  11. JJ78259 says:

    Looks like perfect Weather Dan Weather for the upcoming US Formula One Race at the Circuit of Americas in Austin this coming weekend! Got my three day pass. 83 to 85 degrees

  12. Was it a wind storm or not? I guess it depends on how it individually affects you or your neighborhood. If you’re without power or receive tree damage it certainly changes ones perception of things. It’ll seem like a wind storm if you have a tree down or through your house, or if you’re without power for hours, and you may as well call those damaging winds. As far as a bust goes? Again, it’s all about how you perceive this event compared to what was looking very possible. We all were forecasting or assuming we’d have gusts 45-50mph+ which verified over a good portion of the area. That’s still a moderately strong event, agreed?

    I think “bust” only applies from what might have happened, the fact 48 hours up to the “event” we were looking at the real potential of a serious event, and the fact that models edged away from this we deem it as a bust. As we all know 40-50+mph gusts can cause wind damage, they will take down trees, especially any diseased, rotting, weakened, or if their roots are exposed, and knock out power. If we had seen what the ECMWF was showing for a few runs with the widespread 70mph+ gusts we’d be seeing trees down or through homes all over the place as well as hundreds of thousands of people without power. Be thankful that didn’t pan out. We certainly don’t need 55-60+mph gusts to get our attention or cause a lot of problems and we are being reminded of that today. Just my 3 cents worth.

  13. Probably the best forecasted storm ever was Dec 12 1995.

  14. oldwxwatcher says:

    Interesting short post by Cliff Mass today, which included this:

    “As I will describe in a future blog, this was not a failure so much of the models, but of communication of uncertainty. My profession has to stop providing the worst case or most probable weather evolution, but provide society with full probabilistic guidance.”

    Wonder if Mark agrees with this.

    • Farmer Steve says:

      No matter how many tools you have to predict the weather there will always be a percentage of uncertanty but most people seem to forget that and take all forcasts as gospel, just keep that in mind.

    • Paul D says:

      Definition of forecast: a prediction or estimate of future events, especially coming weather or a financial trend.

  15. Astoria weather enthusiasts says:

    All in all, better prepared than not; although…Thursdays forecast with a “high wind warning” was a basic windy day (that were used to) here on the coast. Friday was very concerning. No watches or warnings, we had higher sustained winds than Thursday along with severe thunderstorms hitting us (2 tornadoes, and numerous water spouts on the river making a bad day for mariners). Saturday, people here on the coast relate to more of the storm of 2007 (than what was read about the Columbus Day Day Storm) when we had downed trees, power poles, and debris everywhere along with most arteries to get in or out of the area blocked off, and some with weeks before getting power restored. With that said, everyone was preparing for the worst, and luckily didn’t have to go through that repeat. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest everyone, to where the weather is unpredictable, and forecasting it is even harder.

  16. Jason Hougak says:

    Seems the tables have turned again and it’s a 70% chance of La Niña this winter once again due to the favorable conditions that have redeveloped.
    Mountains picking up snowfall @ Timberline with the greatest amounts south at Bachelor and Crater Lake as seen on web cams. Hmm, blob and La Niña???

    • JJ78259 says:

      That is good news ample snow pack coming your way

    • High Desert Mat says:

      San Antonio must be really boring, not just in weather. You’re almost as bad as Phil over in the “forums”. He lives in Maryland and posts more than anyone else on there. Just strange to me JJ. No pun intended.

    • Paul D says:

      Come La Nina!!! We welcome you to the Pacific NW!

    • JJ78259 says:

      2011 was a great La Niña

    • JJ78259 says:

      Actually Jason I just finished over seeding my yard with rye grass on a beautiful 90 degree day. The summer just keeps going this year. The lawnmower never quits in San Antonio.

    • runrain says:

      You probably need to post more often, Mr. San Antonio. We often forget what the weather is doing in that part of the country and while we appreciate the updates, could you step up the frequency? Maybe not hourly, but every three hours or so would work. That’s typically how often I find myself wondering about the weather conditions in south central Texas.

  17. MasterNate says:

    It was very windy here but nothing out of the ordinary. Max wind gust was 45 mph and the sun was out for awhile. Still nice to watch the leaves dance around and hear the sounds of fall.

  18. The storm made it’s impact a bit further north than expected here, but i’m not disappointed. I live across the street from a park in the city, and I don’t like to see trees that I’ve seen standing for years broken off and destroyed. Storm no.2 did more damage than expected on Friday. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing even more trees down the next day.

  19. W7ENK says:

    Lamest. Windstorm. EVAR!!

    Worse than December 2006,
    Worse than December 2007.

    Peak wind gust (measured) at my place in Milwaukie was SSW @ 12.8 mph. Everyone I know in Milwaukie was asking “Where the hell is this windstorm?” Well, it seems it was everywhere else BUT in The Dome.

    F’king lame…

    3.04″ of rain since Thursday.

    • JJ78259 says:

      The dome doesn’t give up easy looks like the rainy season is in full swing the gutter cleaning weather is being pushed out farther and farther

    • Scooter says:

      It sounds like maybe you need to buy an inflatable doll to help get your rocks off since the weather isn’t doing that for you. How did you ever get the half-cocked idea anyway that the weather is some sort of entertainment.

    • JJ78259 says:

      It’s fun to watch

    • W7ENK says:

      Yes, I’m entertained by the weather, Scootie. I find it fascinating… and entertaining. Do you have a problem with this?

      Keepin’ it “family friendly” I see, Scoots…

  20. Ended up being quite anticlimactic. Did get 1.09″ of rain in 24 hours, but that’s over an inch less than I saw yesterday. Power came back on about an hour ago.

  21. Jason Hougak says:

    Maybe the excitement in weather is all the here after talk and the memories. Older folks all talk of the big storms and silver thaws, floods, eruptions…, us younger generation wants to have some sort of weather event to remember. It’s not for the disaster aspect but memories. My dad remembers an ice storm in the 80’s in Boring that lasted days and we were without power for about a week. He talks about how he worked so hard to care for the family keeping us warm and comfortable. I remember the big freeze in 1989 that froze our backyard pool into a solid chunk of ice that lasted months. The ice expanded and collapsed the sidewalks of the pool. Heck the weeks prior it was spring like and warm. My dad never thought about a polar express after a mild January. My brother and I played on that block till it was all but melted. I love storms, always have and always will and the more dangerous the more exciting. Not for the disaster but to witness the power of weather. It’s an amazing thing that we have absolutely no control over other than God Almighty. So to the next storm I say cheers, I’ll be waiting!

  22. longbeachrob says:

    I can’t think of a big blow since 2007 or 2009 and I think maybe the model was really wanting a good storm as much as I was. Besides! It wasn’t politics! LOL

  23. Personally, I think it was the biggest bust in a long time. Actually, considering the level of hype around this event, I’m not sure I can recall a bigger bust. Really shows how little is really understood about the weather. None of this is a knock on forecasters…..they do a fantastic job with the tools they possess to make these forecasts. Just that the tools aren’t all that great yet. The tools are good, just not great. Hence epic busts like this.

    • longbeachrob says:

      I think there were other, non weather factors. One of them being how absolutely tired of politics everyone is, and people were just ready to get behind something else, and when someone said “Columbus Day Storm.” Well… we all ran as fast as we could to go look. And it has been quite a while since we have had a big wind storm (at least down here near Long Beach). 2007 or 2009? was the last really good blow I can remember.

    • Scooter says:

      Bust, bust, bust little one, these are still just educated guesses to help mitigate property damage and loss of life, this isn’t some little game for you bored gen xers. this constant complaining and griping that you can’t be titillated by some kind of catastrophic event is just way too much spoiled behavior.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      I agree with you Stephan. The hype is fired up by the TV news stations. Get people excited, more people watching. Plus we put a lot of credence in the computer models. Fortunately chaos still has a hand in the weather that algorithms can’t yet grasp.
      As far as the good ol’ days. There were plenty of blah winters. We just remember the fun ones..
      And I got you by over a decade in years, I’m a father of Gen Xers.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Did you actually read the post Stephan? The forecast was perfect in the metro area! The “bust” was only due to media hype surrounding it. At no point in the 24 hours leading up to the storm did I say anything other than it would be a regular windstorm in the valleys. And I never compared it to the Columbus Day Storm

    • Yeah, I read every word Mark but did you read every word of my post. I never bashed forecasters. My complaint is directed at the media hype machine that forecasters have no control over and the models. I am reading what happened was a nearly impossible outcome to predict with the two lows taking form in the development zone. Overall just a bad event for everyone.

    • …bad event for “everyone”? …i for one have had three days of gusts over 30mph, intense rain squalls and had a great time watching the whole episode unfold!…

    • Paul D says:

      I like watching the wind gusts on this blog 🙂

    • Steven James says:

      I agree with you, Stephan Mark. I have learned (over the years) that upcoming storms surrounded by a lot of hype usually come off underperforming. I told a friend, “If we set low expectations for this storm, it will guaranteed meet them.”

      I just thought it was weird that everywhere I went, people were freaked out about a “Columbus Day Storm II.” I told them not to worry. But of course everyone just canceled everything anyway.

      Oh and by the way Mark, you did great.

    • Jakeinthevalley says:

      Well, I know of three separate incidents in West Salem that involved trees falling on houses that would not constitute a bust for those people.
      The magnitude of damage was not as warned, but it was most definitely not a run of the mill storm.

    • Windsday says:

      Even though unofficial reports show media trust is at an all time low.

      We are all desperate for something other then politics but with this going on I am not surprised it busted and was actually expecting as such.

      Here is a lot of storm loops. More then your brain can probably handle but it has good explanations.

      https :// com/ watch?v=Qc– t7GypR4

      I chopped up the link to try to bypass the link ban filters.

    • W7ENK says:

      FYI @Windsday, there are no “link ban filters,” so no need to break up the URL.

      Had you left it intact, it would have inserted a view window, like this:


  24. Good and blustery here with some heavy rain squalls. Power’s been out for about an hour but that’s hardly unusual for these parts. It’s windy, but hardly an epic storm so far. Pressure is now at 989 mbar after bottoming out at 987 an hour or two ago.

  25. flurball says:

    would not be surprised to see more wind and erratic weather with the westerliies and heating tomorrow like we saw on Friday when I hit my peak wind gust rather than today

  26. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    100 miles makes all of the difference. Still very impressed how well models picked up on this way ahead of time.

    Saw a few deciduous trees snapped/down on the way out to Battle Ground.

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