Wild West Coast Weekend; Possible Windstorm Saturday Evening In Valley

10:30am Friday…

I’ve mentioned numerous times this cool season has been a real dud for weather excitement, and we’re more than halfway through it.  Well now we are in early January and for the first time we have the possibility of a significant wind event or even an actual wind storm here in the western valleys of Oregon and southwest Washington.  It’s only a possibility for now, but I figure it’s my job to keep you updated!


What’s happening?

Models all show that two deep low pressure systems will move onto the West Coast about 24 hours apart.  Those weather forecast models have come together quite a bit this morning showing the first moving north up the Oregon/Washington coastline Saturday evening/night, then a 2nd through southern Oregon and northern California Sunday evening/night.  The first is the one we are most interested in because this could be a strong wind producer.  The second gives southern Oregon a big snowstorm and strong wind down into California but few effects in our viewing area.

Here’s a slideshow from the WRF-GFS model showing the general idea…4pm Saturday a deep low pressure area is off the southern Oregon coast, then it progresses/swings north as an elongated “dip” in the atmosphere.  By 10pm it’s up off the Washington coast.  Air rushes in to fill that “dip” and we get a strong southerly wind as the low passes by.  A “classic” wind storm setup.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If this exact setup occurs, we’d have a brief but intense windstorm on the coastline AND in the Willamette Valley/Metro as pressure rises rapidly behind the low.  With a strong wind field overhead plus those isobars oriented directly west/east perpendicular to the valley, we would be set for a big wind event.  This is the type of setup that gives us widespread 50-65 mph gusts in the valley; we haven’t seen that for a few years.

Now it’s important to note this is the most “intense looking model”, others are a bit weaker, or have the low almost directly overhead (far less wind).  It’s still 30 hours away so we’ll see what changes with evening and Saturday AM model runs.

A good example is the morning Euro (ECMWF) model run.  It is significantly weaker with a weaker low pressure center, which is barely a center at all.  More of a wind surge coming up the valley at a later time.  It shows more like 30-45 mph gusts, what we’ve already seen this season and no big deal.


  • If the low moves directly over the Portland Metro Area, all strong wind would be to the south = no wind storm
  • Models could decide low will be much weaker as the ECMWF does = we just get a regular breezy Saturday evening = no wind storm
  • Models hold the same course and we actually get a widespread strong southerly windstorm in the Willamette Valley, we haven’t seen that in a few years.


No, don’t cancel anything or alter your plans this weekend; that would be silly at this point.  Maybe have some candles/flashlights ready in case the power goes out.  Or if you live in a rural area make sure your generator is working.  That should always be the case in our November-February storm season anyway.  Other than that there’s nothing you can do to “prepare” for a wind storm.  It gets windy for a few hours and then it dies down.


  1. Through 4pm Saturday nothing interesting happens, except for the usual gusty east wind developing through the Gorge and into east metro area
  2. Strong southerly wind is POSSIBLE around sunset and into the evening hours  Saturday throughout our viewing area (especially west of the Cascades) but by no means a guarantee at this point
  3. Get ready for power outages and downed trees if we do get strong wind

Stay Tuned!


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

60 Responses to Wild West Coast Weekend; Possible Windstorm Saturday Evening In Valley

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    High winds are really starting strong

  2. ocpaul says:

    Less ‘The Tempest’ than ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.

  3. Christiana Mayer says:

    Here is the 5am forecast from Tracy: Saturday, Jan. 5, 5:00 A.M.

    Brief Strong Wind Tonight

    If you’ve been keeping up with the weather, then you know about the potential wind storm for tonight. Yes, it will be quite windy, no I don’t think this is going to be a big storm for the valleys. It will be brief, only lasting a few hours. The High Wind Watch has been downgraded to a Wind Advisory for the Portland, Vancouver and Salem areas. Sustained winds will be in the 20 to 30 mph range and wind gusts will peak around 50 mph. Wind gusts will be stronger in hilly areas. The coast will see some strong winds tonight. A High Wind Warning will go into effect at 6 pm as wind gusts are expected to peak at 65 mph, sustained wind speeds will be between 35 and 45 mph. Wind will settle down for everyone by tomorrow morning.

    It’s going to be a gray day today. Fog is dense in spots this morning. Rain will pick up around lunchtime. Showers will continue through Thursday. Temperatures will be in the 40s.

  4. alohabb says:

    These are the types of storms that cause crazy chaos. There seemed to be no discussion or model riding , and then all the sudden here is a wind event.

  5. Kyle says:

    http://www.climate.washington.edu/stormking/ Unfortunately he doesn’t allow hot linking on his site. Not exactly sure what he is paranoid about as it’s just wind storms he posts.

  6. Kyle says:

    Are we looking at a 1981 setup?

  7. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Looks like the NWS is doubling down the winds. They issued a Wind Advisory instead of a High Wind Watch. I’m assuming if the winds are stronger than they think they could upgrade it to a High Wind Warning 🙄😒😂

    • K says:

      The storm is certainly much more consolidated than models were forecasting it to be. I found the NWS AFD to offer substantial evidence as to why they issued the advisory, and strangely many weather sites are also showing gusty winds (which they never seem to do for PDX). Don’t know if Mark buys it though, he’s always cautious- for good reason.

      • Kyle says:

        Are we looking at Nov 1981 or the Gale of Dec 82? http://www.climate.washington.edu/stormking/ Scroll down as he does not allow hot linking. Pretty paranoid for just a weather site and the images aren’t really his to begin with unlike fan art.

        • K says:

          Neither, this one’s taking a more unique track. We could have gusts 35-45, 45-55, or even 45-60 depending on how this very weird low behaves.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I haven’t looked at the latest model runs but I’m having a strange feeling about this storm. I think it could bite us in the a**. Mother nature can surprise us sometimes and I’m thinking this could be the one time. It just a feeling but I could be wrong!!

  8. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 00Z Euro just upped the winds over 60 mph. That’s if I’m reading it right.

    • K says:

      Yes, it did. I’m getting a little annoyed, though models are in a little more agreement. Here’s my interpretation.

      EURO upped the winds: 55-65 gusts
      GFS lowered then raised the winds: 35-50
      NAM regular lowered it a lot, but NAM 3K still has 45-55 gusts
      ICON has 45-60 gusts
      HRRR is crazy, gusts 60-70 in spots
      WRF still has 50-60 gusts

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        LOL, I know the models are all over the place but right now we just need to wait and see what happens. All we can do is prepare for what may or may not happen. Tomorrow we will know more when the other models do their runs. That’s all I can say for now 🙂

  9. Full Steam says:

    Will my garbage can blow away tomorrow night in wood village if I don’t put it out in time pick up last week on tomorrow? And will waste mafia be mad at me?

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    Don’t BLOW this one Mark🤣

  11. K says:

    Yeah, no windstorm tomorrow. Almost every model has come in much weaker and I think the EURO will definitely follow suit. Maybe another time, guys 😦

  12. paulbeugene says:

    This storm looks good on satellite imagery, looks like track very close to the Oregon Coast or the coast range. It does look like more of a south and central Willamette Valley storm. 00z NAM has it still deepening to low 980s. Since soils are well moistened 2-3 months into the rainy season, don’t need gusts more than 60-70mph to cause a lot of damage. There are entire neighborhoods built up in the hills southwest of Eugene that didn’t exist at time of Feb 2002 windstorm. There are lots Douglas firs amongst these nice homes. Still need to wait and see how things unfold. Only the GFS run from this morning showed damaging winds. There remains a chance that we won’t get 50 plus mph winds but it looks too classic on satellite imagery to ignore. Might as well upgrade to warning if 0zGGE run shows non-filling low on same track.

  13. W7ENK says:

    12z WRF GFS has a burst of 60kt (70mph) winds at the surface (10 meters) at 7pm tomorrow, centered right smack on Portland metro.

    Look close, zoom in if you have to.

    Hold onto your butts!!

  14. K says:

    Well, of course, NAM was a lot weaker as expected this run. How difficult is it to give one nice windstorm to the valley?

  15. runrain says:

    Paul in Eugene too, especially since winds are expected to be stronger south of Portland.

  16. Thanks for the post, Mark. Quite the storm wrapping up out there. Very impressive dry slot.

    We haven’t seen a developing storm this far south tracking over the 40 N, 130 W critical placement for all Major PNW Wind Storms I believe since the December 11th, 2014 wind storm. Our classic wind storms of the past Apr 1957, Oct 1962, Oct 1967, Mar 1974, Nov 1981, Dec 1995, Dec 2006 follow that deep, southerly trajectory. This storm is going to be following suit. It’s unclear if the low weakens before reaching landfall, or afterward and that’s an important factor. Nonetheless, I believe it is time to be a bit concerned for the possibility of a strong southerly wind event or even a major, damaging wind storm. 00z runs tonight should quickly show models come to a more clear consensus in regards to the lows strength and track. Could it possibly be that we will no longer dodge that bullet of avoiding a major wind storm for the past 15-20 years. I think the chance for PDX-Albany to see gusts 40-50mph+(or higher?) is increasing. Stay tuned.

    Earlier I did some 12z model initialization(4 AM) analysis of the low/wave along with the 10 AM observation to gauge which models may be handling depth the best. Very crucial. It looks like thus far the GFS, WRF-GFS, MM5-NAM is doing the best. We’ll see how this looks in 6-10 hours.

    4 AM
    12z EURO 1004mb
    12z GFS 1004mb
    12z NAM 1000mb
    12z MM5-NAM 1002mb
    12z WRF-GFS 1004mb
    12z GEM 1003mb
    12z NAVGEM 1004mb
    12z FV3-GFS 1004mb
    12z ICON 1003mb
    12z JMA 1006mb

    10 AM the low was 997mb
    12z EURO 1000mb (3mb too weak)
    12z GFS 997mb (Accurate)
    12z NAM 994mb (3mb too strong)
    12z MM5-NAM 996mb (1mb too strong)
    12z WRF-GFS 998mb (1mb too weak)
    12z GEM 999mb (2mb too weak)
    12z NAVGEM 1000mb (3mb too weak)
    12z FV3-GFS 995mb (2mb too strong)
    12z ICON 998mb (1mb too weak)

    Model comparison. So far the MM5-NAM is handling the low nearly spot on.

    ~1 PM the low was at 993mb (Now likely 990-991mb)
    12z EURO 997mb (3mb too weak)
    12z GFS 997mb (4mb too weak)
    12z MM5-NAM 993mb (Accurate)
    12z WRF-GFS 995mb (2mb too weak)
    12z ICON 994mb (1mb too weak)

    If I were on TV and had to make a forecast I would go with PDX-Oregon City 40-50mph gusts. Wilsonville to Albany 45-55mph. Possibly adjusted by 11 PM or 7 AM. IF this low looks anything similar to this when it is parallel with roughly Brookings, LOOK OUT! Big winds will be likely if not imminent.

  17. W7ENK says:

    211 PM PST FRI JAN 4 2019


    • K says:

      I mean, ensemble support is decent and mesoscale models are showing it, but the GFS just isn’t biting. It shows more of a 35-45 wind event instead. FV-3 shows basically nothing, but it doesn’t develop the low well.

  18. Mountain Man says:

    Where’s Rob with his analysis? He has a big fan base here! I keep expecting him to chime in, not only on the wind possibly, but some runs, especially some of the ecmwf ensemble forecasts giving us a sweet spot low for an early January 2004 freek snow repeat scenario. Rob, if you’re out there, I know comments are down on this blog, but we all still check in and we all always love to see your analysis.

    • I just did. I left a lengthy comment, analysis and a recent WV pic. It didn’t show up. Not sure why. Ugh.

      • K says:

        Looking very forward to reading it!

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Hey Rob, I hope you maybe able to try and post your “lengthy comment” again…lol. I had that issue one time. Find out I did something with my email and it didn’t post either. I do hope you may post your comment. I would really like to hear what you have to say 🙂

  19. 18z NAM nasty bent back occlusion brings 60+kts to surface PDX

    • 18Z gfs much less impressive with energy split into two developing lows, but I see no evidence of that (yet) on WV sat imagery

      • K says:

        Surprisingly the GFS is much better than last run, where the surface winds were very low. I think a bluster of 30-40 gusts in the valley seems probable now, to be honest. In addition the low’s current position seems stronger than forecasted.

    • Lack of euro support (or GFS for that matter) certainly casts some doubt. But that sat image sure looks like a windstorm! Perhaps it might be wrapping up a touch soon and filling by the time it lifts this way… time will tell

      • K says:

        EURO isn’t bad, ensemble support is okay. Taken at face value EURO gives us 40-55 gusts in the valley, decent. GFS is the only troublemaker, but to be fair the MOS outputs give strong 25-35 kt sustained winds over PDX.

  20. Ashley Watson says:

    Essentially we are stuck in a bubble that will weaken anything coming in. Good for northern Washington and parts of California

  21. Ashley Watson says:

    So my prediction is that the models ( 12z GFS and 12z euro)are finally seeing that the Saturday storm will be weakend by our high pressure this a non event and the Sunday system will end up getting sucked into California via the southern stream. Don’t expect the northern stream to give us any goods anytime soon

  22. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    I hope we don’t get a windstorm. What’s fun about damage to nature and property? Rain, snow, and cold does not cause damage except in extreme cases. Maybe I am jaded because my house is surrounded by big Douglas Firs. Most likely, we will end up with gusty winds for a couple of hours and that will be that. Par for the course.

    • Laura -- Weather Group Outcast says:

      I agree with you.. I like a gust here and there but nothing serious..

    • runrain says:

      No one wants damage or injury. But true weather geeks just get excited with any extreme, even prolonged heat waves. Seems generally strange but no one has said we’re completely normal either!

  23. Ashley Watson says:

    So in looking at the ncep 6-10 day and 8-14 outlooks they are saying we are in a split flow regime through the period. Mark mentioned something about that earlier. Also there is a sudden stratospheric warming event underway that is supposed to give us a ridge and give the east a trough. There is also the MJO that is in phase 6. What I gather from all of this is that under a split flow storms usually tend to either go into California or Washington. Anything that does go through Oregon gets weakend by our high pressure. I think the models are struggling because they are trying to figure out if the storms will go north or south of us. If those lows do end up coming through our area I think they will be real duds because they are weakend by our high pressure. We don’t really get meaningful storms under split flow regime. If I’m wrong about my hypothesis please someone even Mark correct me

  24. ocpaul says:

    There was a greater breeze from the deep sigh I just exhaled.

  25. Mountain Man says:

    Ashley, I don’t have any insight into why the models are having such a hard time 4-5 days out except that in general the ensembles regularly spread way out this year more than in the past at that point. Must be some marginal atmospheric situations this year making them struggle more than usual, not yet scientifically understood. Obvious that it does make midrange forecasting much more difficult this winter.
    I do know that if you are looking for a big snowstorm in the Bend to Sunriver area, you want a storm like Sunday evenings low pressure to track in to somewhere around Grants Pass, then stall or slow down for a period of up upslope wind and wraparound precipitation in your area. That’s unusual, but it happens some years and you’re really not going to be able to rely on such a feature like that in the weather models until its within 24 to 36 hours away. Hopefully that helps a little in your quest to determine if snow it on the way.

  26. K says:

    Not going to happen. This crappy winter just won’t do anything, and that’s not going to change. Storm’s already falling apart on models.

  27. Laura -- Weather Group Outcast says:

    Hooray – another hyped up storm that will do nothing.

  28. Ashley Watson says:

    Here are my unprofessional thoughts,

    Im not really following any windstorm prospects. I live in Sunriver so I care about snow. The European model this year is not the most reliable model I noticed. It has forecasted lots of snow for us only 5-7 days out only for it cave into the GFS. The European model showed good snows for us this weekend only 5 days ago only to cave into the GFS. Then in the last 2 days the GFS started trending along the lines of what the Euro showed 5 days ago but the euro is trending even less snow now than the GFS is. As far as the sat storm the models have taken it from northern California 4 days ago to almost northern Washington now and as for the Sunday storm it was going to northern Washington and now the models changed there mind and are taking through northern California. By the time Sunday comes around they will have it coming in in southern California. All this model change in the last 3-4 days. I’ve never seen it this bad. There is something screwy going on. If anyone has any insight into this please respond. I think in the end the model that has the least interesting outcome will verify but only at the last minute becy that would fit our boring winter pattern so far. It will probably be the European model to.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Yea, the models are all over the place this season. The weather will do what it wants to do. The way I see it, look at the models and what it says 4 to 5 days out, expect it to change. It looks good 5 days out but I would just go by a day or two out for now. We’ll see what happens with this storm. Just because it’s within two days. Things probably will change again. That’s the way with watching the models this season.

    • Mountain Man says:

      Ashley, I don’t have any insight into why the models are having such a hard time 4-5 days out except that in general the ensembles regularly spread way out this year more than in the past at that point. Must be some marginal atmospheric situations this year making them struggle more than usual, not yet scientifically understood. Obvious that it does make midrange forecasting much more difficult this winter.
      I do know that if you are looking for a big snowstorm in the Bend to Sunriver area, you want a storm like Sunday evenings low pressure to track in to somewhere around Grants Pass, then stall or slow down for a period of up upslope wind and wraparound precipitation in your area. That’s unusual, but it happens some years and you’re really not going to be able to rely on such a feature like that in the weather models until its within 24 to 36 hours away. Hopefully that helps a little in your quest to determine if snow it on the way.

  29. Paul D says:

    Another dud about to happen

  30. W7ENK says:

    And there it is. The kiss of death.

    Now all we need is a solid mention from NWS to drive in the final nail and get this thing buried under six feet of dirt.

  31. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Thank you for the update Mark. Let’s hope things get interesting 🙂 First

%d bloggers like this: