Wrap Up: A Historic April Wind Storm

2pm Friday

The wind is slowly continuing to die off this afternoon and we’ll be down to just breezes by this evening.

I missed a haircut today due to this windstorm since I rushed into work, but it appears that’s a minor issue compared to what some of you have gone through.  There is now a ton of firewood available in the metro area since LOTS of trees have come down.  And it appears at least one person’s death was caused by falling trees/limbs in SW Portland.

This was most likely the strongest April windstorm in the metro area since the April 14 1957 event.  In fact it was quite similar to that storm with respect to track and windspeed reports.

JoeRWind_PeakGustPDX

Note that a stronger gust did hit the airport on the day of the Vancouver Tornado in 1972, but that wasn’t a widespread southerly windstorm.  As mentioned in a previous posting the airport wind sensor was quite close to the tornado when it first touched down on the Oregon side of the river.

This wind storm brought the most widespread power outages for PGE since the December 2006 “Hannukah Eve” storm as well.

Mark_PGE_PowerOutages

1 in 5 customers had at least a brief interruption and some of us will likely be out of power for a few days.  At least in April we won’t get too cold!

Hardest hit was the west and central metro area, including SE Portland where OMSI recorded a gust to 76 mph on their rooftop sensor.  Note the gusts to 60 mph in SW Portland and Hillsboro.  That’s quite high for those areas.  In fact Hillsboro airport hitting 60 mph IS a rare event indeed.

PLOT_Wind_Metro_PeakGusts_MANUAL2

You’ll notice the lower speeds east of I-205.  That’s okay, they get plenty of wind all winter long.  And poor Vista House got left out of this storm…just 32 mph.  The Gorge doesn’t get strong south wind storms, okay, maybe once every 20-30 years, but that’s it.  One other note.  There is a wind sensor up on SW Portland that shows up online.  It recorded gusts 80-101 mph for several hours this morning.  I’ve skipped over it because either A) It’s high up on a transmission tower or B) the sensor has gone bad.  There’s no way the wind was regularly gusting at that speed right in a neighborhood in SW Portland near ground level.

PLOT_Wind_Metro_PeakGusts_MANUAL1

Today’s event was a glimpse into the future of weather forecasting.  The models beat the human forecasters!  Just about every model clearly advertised wind gusts in the 50-70 mph range during the morning to midday hours, some were even a bit stronger.  I was a bit doubtful so I dropped those numbers a bit to 40-55 mph gusts (which was slightly low, but close enough).  The NWS forecast gusts 45-50 mph.  There was a Wind Advisory out for the valleys but no High Wind Warning (criteria is gusts above 58 mph) out for this storm.   Using the classic rule of Eugene to Olympia pressure gradient (10 millibars), you would only get gusts in the 30-40 mph range.  Instead we immediately jumped into the 50-70 mph range right away this morning.  That strong wind just a couple thousand feet up mixed down to sea-level perfectly and the model simulations nailed it while the humans were doubting it.  This includes the HRRR, NAM, NAM-MM5, WRF-GFS, & ECMWF.

This will happen more often in the future and I expect within 10 years the vast majority of the time models will be correct and the humans will just be left to “babysit” the output.

This weekend we’ll see showers and sunbreaks as a cool airmass sits overhead Saturday, then mainly (or all) dry Sunday since we’ll be waiting for a front to come through Sunday PM.

For future analysis, here are 4 different model forecasts (wind gusts):

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

74 Responses to Wrap Up: A Historic April Wind Storm

  1. Mountain Man says:

    Wow Mark, you’re slacking. No post in forever even with all the little kidos hunting eggs tomorrow. I can’t remember you ever missing an important holiday post on the blog like this. Much less next week is my week off for getting the garden ready. Not that I can plan for the actual weather. When the heck is there a dry morning or afternoon in the foothills this week? I need to know!

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Mark must be sick of the weather.
      Wettest day Wednesday, showers Mon, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday maybe dry.

  2. Roland Derksen says:

    I think I’ll become a moss farmer this year:-). It makes more sense than growing tomatoes. Don’t have to worry about providing fertilizer,watering, temperature, ect. It all grows naturally, so I can harvest it anytime I want!

  3. Hal in Aims says:

    have counted 5 flashes so far…….now pea sized hail…..ground is white……

  4. Hal in Aims says:

    thundershower currently here………

  5. WEATHERDAN says:

    Heavy hail yesterday with more hail showers today. Lots of exciting weather this past six months. I am so ready for some sun and heat in NW Oregon. Even in our coldest Summers we have had lots of 70’s and 80’s with a few stray 90’s. So the weather will turn nicer at some point. I just hope it is soon. Happy Easter and Peace,

  6. Lee Wilson says:

    Mark, we just got slammed by a Sneaker Storm
    Winds were at least 35 to 45 mph.

    Any idea what hit Castle Rock area?

  7. W7ENK says:

    Just did a little tallying, for curiosity’s sake…

    Since the beginning of the year, I’ve only had 18 completely dry days.
    10 of those were in January.
    4 of those had a foot of snowcover on the ground.

    Precip at my location in Milwaukie:
    Oct 11.85″
    Nov 8.80″
    Dec 5.77″
    Jan 5.90″
    Feb 13.10″
    Mar 8.39″
    Apr 1.64″ (so far)

    That makes 55.45 inches of rain so far in this water year. 29.03″ since Jan 1.

    That’s an insane amount of water!

    In fact, it’s raining pretty good out there right now as I type this…

    🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️

  8. JJ78259 says:

    The blog is definitely in a holding pattern. Mark must be on a another vacation. Or is it the constant grey wet weather that has muted the incentive to even think about the weather. I used to think next week it will clear up then the weather forecast dashed my hopes which took me up to Wichita Pub on King Rd to at least get get some bright light from the video poker machines. A few attitude adjusting cold ones also.

  9. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Stay inside if the yucky old sun comes out!

    National Weather Service Portland OR
    244 AM PDT Wed Apr 12 2017

    …This weekend is
    shaping up right now to be a beautiful weekend to get outside
    (unless you prefer the rain, then stay indoors).

  10. High Desert Mat says:

    It sure would be nice if some people on here would post their locations when they don’t have it in their title. I’m in Redmond and it sure has been a gloomy spring so far. Really windy, chilly and uncharacteristicly cloudy ish…..

  11. Roland Derksen says:

    Wow- what a nice day this has turned out to be here; sunny skies with a temperature close to 60F(it was 58 when I last looked). Sure needed this because the next 3 days we’re back in “the soup”!

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Hey- we got over 60F today: (60.6F to be exact). I’m kind of happy but sad at the same time. Happy it finally came, but sad it didn’t come a day later, because then we would have set a new record for latest date for that temperature level.

  12. Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

    How I feel about the rain and cold still trending in the forecasts (in a nutshell):

    Get me a cape – with a hood!

  13. Jason Hougak says:

    A new blog about this epic water year would be great. With the great snowpack and cool weather holding on the snow is going to help refill our groundwater aquifers. So far this spring I’ve had two wells artesian which is when the water inside the well casing comes out the top of the wellhead. This is a good indication of a saturated aquifer. This snowpack is also going to help limit our wildfire season.
    Great evening playing baseball with the kids even though it was chilly in the low 40’s. Trees are ever so slowly turning greener.

  14. Jason Hougak says:


    Since the blog is so slow I thought I’d post this picture I took 3/30/17 off HWY 224 just west of Eagle Creek

  15. Double rainbow here at the moment. Lots of intense showers today, some with small hail.

    • W7ENK says:

      Official spotter report to NWS:

      7 April 2017, Friday.

      Wind:

      In my wind sheltered location here in Milwaukie, my station measured a peak wind gust of 45.1 mph from the South at 7:19am. However, I would estimate that the winds were significantly stronger. This neighborhood appears to have been hit much harder than the surrounding area.

      Based on the level of damage to trees and infrastructure in this immediate area, this is by far worse than the December 12, 1995 storm. From what I’ve seen, I don’t expect to have power restored until after the weekend.

      UPDATE: Power was restored after 31 hours.

  16. Boring 550' says:

    Winter Weather Advisory up for the cascades for tonight and tomorrow. This is great news because it’ll help make up for such a lack of snow this year.

  17. Jason Hougak says:

    April looks to continue the below normal temperatures with above average precipitation trend. This has been pretty similar to 2011. I skied at Ski Bowl on their last day I believe was May 10th and they still had a 6′ snowbase.

  18. ocpaul says:

    Lost power at 1:30pm 4-7.

    Power on 4:45 pm 4-8 Many thanks to the PGE crews!

    re the accuracy of models… IMO weather/climate will always have an element of chaos. think of the surprise heavy snow drop this winter.
    the models missed it, the forecasters missed it–chaos

  19. Lurkyloo says:

    I was sitting on my back porch when the wind came up very suddenly. Talked to my neighbor for a couple of minutes (she wanted to know “where’d this wind come from?”). Went back inside and the power was already out. Our outage only lasted about an hour and a half. Sounds like we got lucky!

  20. Roland Derksen says:

    Some very light hail showers here in the last hour and a half, with sunny breaks. Better than yesterday’s steady light rain (0.59 inch) but still too cool and cloudy.

  21. Jason Hougak says:

    Tomorrow night sure sounds exciting. Quite a dynamic atmosphere, should be interesting. Geez, for a weather blog and all the excitement this party really died. 36F here and feels like January. Timberline base back up to 176″. The lakes and rivers are going to be amazing to fish and float this year if we even get a summer. 😆Cheers

  22. Jason Hougak says:

    Heavy wet snow falling in the Cascade Foothills. 16 hrs without power. Bring on winter!!!

  23. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    Well this was definitely the most damaging wind storm we’ve had in quite a long time. Greenhouse completely ripped apart this time. Usually it’s just panels that blow off, but this time twisted metal and a lot of damage. We sit right on the top of an exposed south facing hill so usually get hammered pretty good, but this one beat it all. Lost power at 7:40 in the morning, came back on at 10:30 ish that night. Trees came down from Seaquest Park and broke power poles. We drove through there several times and got video of the damage. I just hope we’re done with these until October. As much as I like a good windstorm, I hate the clean up and fixing everything afterwards.

  24. Roland Derksen says:

    I’m thankful the wind did not get strong enough here to knock out power. But- in the meantime, we’ve still got plenty of rain coming down. A couple of stats: This morning I already had twice as much rain for this month as i had for all of last year’s April. Secondly, from March 21st til the end of today, I should have measured as much rain as I get on average through the month of December. No one tell me this is typical PNW weather!

  25. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Who woulda thought!

    …ACCUMULATING HAIL MAY MAKE ROADS OCCASIONALLY SLICK

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/getprod.php?wfo=pqr&pil=SPS&sid=PQR&version=0

  26. …oh boy, it’s snowing in Cove…inch on the ground and snowing hard…

  27. Lee Wilson says:

    Weather is being caused by a solar minimum?
    How will a solar minimum affect gardening this year?

  28. It was windy up this way but not insanely so. A pretty typical November windstorm (except of course it’s not November). My power stayed on.

  29. Lee Wilson says:

    I am wondering did we get hit by a typhoon?

    • Anonymous says:

      Lee, I too live in Castle Rock.. It was no typhoon or hurricane. We had gusts of 50-60 maybe 65 sustained of 20-35 at times. A typhoon -Eastern Pacific or Hurricane- Western Pacific or Atlantic are defined by SUSTAINED wind of over 74 mph! and the scale goes up from there. So imagine that for a minute.

  30. Barbie says:

    Reminded me of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962

  31. Steven James says:

    The power was out at Beaverton Swim Center (my workplace) all day today from 7:45 to 5:40-ish. The MAX was delayed by fifteen minutes. Trees were down all over town.

    AND YET PORTLAND HANDLED IT! We didn’t panic, or shut down, or anything like that. So I hugely prefer this to all those snowstorms we got.

  32. High Desert Mat says:

    It must’ve been a typhoon. I’ve never seen anything like it. Cyclone?

  33. JERAT416 says:

    Power out here on Bull Mtn since 7:30 this morning.

  34. muxpux (Longview) says:

    I’m sitting at the jetty at Cape Dissapointment. Been out here since 9am. No Dissapointment here

  35. Jason Hougak says:

    Our power has been out here since just before 8 this morning. Generator is running and fire blazing, 41F.

  36. Lee Wilson says:

    That was fun, but I don’t want a repeat any time soon.
    If this is a prelude to the storms to come this summer..we will have problems.

    Some areas back east got snow.

    On the plus side, we did get a few sun breaks to keep the battery bank up.
    We used the grill to cook food..although…it is interesting…propane flame can be blown out lol.
    We kept the fridge going to for 6 hours.
    And I used a heating pad to keep warm.
    Kinda interesting at what one can power with batteries now a days.

    Get enough of them and you can power a lot of things for a long time.

    Noe I see were going to get rain..blahk.

  37. Jack says:

    Strong gusts in Camas, WA earlier today. Been much quieter the last hour or so, intermittent gusts. Haven’t seen much damage. No power hiccups at all, didn’t see a single blink or dip — but we have buried power and communication lines here, vastly superior to power poles. Entire PNW should have buried lines (electricity, communications, fiber/).

    But still a strong windstorm, stronger than the occasional winter wind storms we get up here.

  38. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Stray albino donkey wandering about this area!

  39. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    7 hours and counting with no power. It sure is nice and quiet now with the wind dying down. That was some serious raging winds. Now to deal with all this cleanup.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Hope you get power soon. Other wise you will be breaking out the hurricane lamps and building a fire in that fireplace…if.you have one..

      Hope you can invest in a generator sometime soon.
      Or…get Solar up and running..you can get panels for 80 bucks but it’s the batteries that get the pocket book bad . ouch

    • Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

      I have a generator. Kind of hard to post weather updates without power unless you’re running some kind of alternate power.

  40. Saint says:

    @Hal in Aims… same here in Maywood Park.. almost 3pm, and you described to-the-letter what’s goin’ on outside.. just when it seems that things are calming down, all of a sudden a nice lil’ 40mph gust blows in……smh…… wadda day!

  41. mt scott summit has 57 mph gusts as of 2:38 p.m./

  42. Hal in Aims says:

    still very strong wind here at times…..backs off for a bit….then ramps back up ……..air is filled with debris……large limbs down everywhere…..have at least one tree down…have not ventured into a small grove of Dougs yet……amazingly, have not lost power yet…..

  43. Holy $#!+, you sure got hammered down in PDX. Things are just starting to “whoop it up” up this way. Wind and rain have really picked up in about the last 20 minutes. NWS was forecasting gusts to 55 this morning. We shall soon see.

  44. W7ENK says:

    Crazy storm!!

%d bloggers like this: