May 12, 2021

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Weather News & Forecast

An Explosively Deepening Pacific Cyclone is Approaching Our Region

2 min read

The moisture channel satellite image at 1 PM  is stunning and ominous (see below), with a huge plume of water vapor distorted into the characteristic structure of an intense midlatitude cyclone.  I place an “L” at the position of the low pressure center and noted the intrusion of dry air (black colors) that indicates the trailing sinking of a major storm.

One way I know where the low center is from a special weather satellite called a scatterometer, that bombards the ocean surface with microwave radiation, with the amount scattered back revealing wind speed and direction.  This satellite can see through rain and clouds….a miracle.

In the resulting wind map around noon, you can see the low center at approximately 44N, 132W.  Colors indicate wind speed.

As I speak a powerful warm front is moving up the coast, with winds gusting to 50-90 mph behind it. 

 Below is the forecast surface map at 4 PM.  The low center is offshore, but if you look closely you can see distinct change of colors along the northern WA coast, from cool (green) to warmer (yellow).  That is the warm front.  And if you have very good eyes you can see a major change in wind speed and direction from easterly wind north of the front to strong southerly winds to its south.

The latest UW model run brings the storm to landfall as a 968 hPa low around 1 PM tomorrow.  A large pressure gradient extends over western WA, so we will get a (lesser) taste of the strong winds.

The European Center model intensifies the storm even more, bombing down to 

about 960 hPa around 9 AM tomorrow.

Winds?  You bet.  The European Center model predicts big winds (50-70 mph) off our coast at 6 AM tomorrow.

And as the low makes landfall, 70-90 mph winds hit near the tip of Vancouver Island and in some of the mountains of SW BC.

As the storm moves through tomorrow morning it will get very windy over NW Washington, with winds gusting about 50 mph around the San Juans.  Not a good morning to take a ferry ride.  

I spent hours last weekend raking and blowing leaves.  I think I will have to do it again very soon….

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