An Update!

Sunday, December 16, 2012
2:40 P.M.

Hi everybody! It’s great to be back! I survived finals, although I sustained some serious injuries during the battle. Oh well, I’ll recover from them soon enough.

We’ve got a lot to talk about. First off, we have a fairly large storm swinging through our area tonight. Take a look at all those pretty warnings over the region. This is what I live for.

Not a country spared. Wonderful.

The main things I want you guys to look at are the high wind warnings over much of Western Washington and the blizzard warnings over the Cascades and Olympics. High wind is relatively common around the coast, but it is much rarer inland. The one place that doesn’t have high wind warnings in effect is the Tacoma – Mt. Vernon region, as the strongest pressure gradients will reside south and west of there. It should still be noticeably blustery though, and a wind advisory is in effect in that region. Blizzard warnings represent the penultimate National Weather Service severe winter weather warning, and denote sustained 35 mph winds with heavy snow for at least three hours at a time. I was taking a look at some of the pass cams, and they don’t look too bad yet.

But this will change. 1-3 feet of snow is possible through Monday night, and gusts to 60 in the passes and up to 90 on exposed ridges will pummel the Cascades and Olympics. This is not the time to be out backcountry hiking or skiing, as conditions could become life-threatening. It’s also probably not the best time to try and make it across the passes either, although if you got a whole bunch of people up there, you could probably have a pretty large snowball fight.

Let’s take a look at the current satellite.

02:30 pm PST Sun 16 Dec 2012
As you can see, there is clearly a strong storm racing into our area. It’s fairly mature as far as its development goes, and we are probably already in the occluded part of the cyclone. There is a well-defined dry slot and an extended bent-back occlusion west of the center of low pressure. It’s not the prettiest cyclone I’ve ever seen, but looks can be deceiving. This will be a strong storm.
The coast will see the greatest effects, but this should hardly come as a surprise; the coast always sees the greatest effects. There is a storm warning over all the offshore waters from Cape Flattery to the Californian border for sustained winds of 40 to 50 knots and associated waves of 20-25 feet. Vessels should stay in port. I can’t even imagine what the bars will look like. It would be interesting to see the Grays Harbor and Columbia River Bars at ebb tide with waves this large. It would also be something that would be extremely dangerous to all but the largest vessels.
The storm passes through Monday morning, but that definitely won’t be the end of its effects over the region. Particularly, I’ve got my eye on Monday night, where a possible convergence zone could bring some snow to the hills in the favored southern Snohomish/northern King county regions. This won’t be a major event, and the snow won’t stick around for long, but it could be the first significant snowfall for parts of the region this year.
After that, we look to continue in our unsettled ways, but the models are all over the place with regards to the details. One thing is for sure… the mountains will continue to see lots of snow, and that’s all I could really ask for Christmas.
Enjoy the gloomy weather!
Charlie
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