Historic Saturday wind storm could bring gusts of 60-70 mph in Puget Sound region
** This story is focusing on Saturday's storm. For the latest on the Thursday night/Friday morning wind storm, check this link: First of pair of strong windstorms poised to strike tonight **
SEATTLE -- It's not often a storm potentially bringing 45-55 mph winds in the region like the one coming in Thursday night gets sent to second-fiddle status, but there is an even more dangerous storm lurking in the Pacific Ocean for Saturday night.
It's a storm that could bring 60-70 mph winds across much of Western Washington, including the Seattle Metro area, putting it on par with the strongest storm to hit the region since the Hanukah Eve storm in 2006.
Our upcoming storm, the remnants of Typhoon Songda, has been getting a lot of attention all week. But forecasters have been fretting with varying computer model projections that had a wide range of strengths and landfall positions; each would present different wind speed and durations.
But Thursday morning, it all came together, with the main models coalescing into a prediction that is a worst-case scenario for Western Washington: A very deep area of low pressure that tracks across the north coast into southern British Columbia.
High Wind Watches have already been posted across the entire region for the storm now, coming on the heels of the strong-but-not-this-strong storm coming in Thursday night and Friday morning.
Damaging winds are expected on the coast first with gusts to 70 mph on the south coast Saturday afternoon, increasing to 80 mph by Saturday evening. Winds will spread north up the coast, reaching gusts of 70-75 mph along the central coast and 60 mph on the north coast.
East-southeast wind will spread into the Northwest Interior (Marysville north to Canadian border, and the San Juan, Whidbey and Camano islands) by around 9-10 p.m. as the storm center moves north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Winds here will gust as high as 70 mph -- there will be a period of somewhat rare east winds here as the powerful low tracks due west of there that will eventually shift to from the south after midnight.
That's because once we get past midnight into early Sunday morning, the low center will move directly north of the area into the Vancouver, B.C. region and extremely strong southerly winds will race up the I-5 and entire Puget Sound corridor. That will slam all areas from Olympia through Seattle and north to to the border with sustained winds of 25-45 mph, gusting to 60-70 mph winds into the predawn hours Sunday. National Weather Service forecasters have predicted peak gusts around 60 mph in the greater Olympia, Tacoma, Kitsap Peninsula and Eastside metro areas (Bellevue, Kirkland etc...), gusts to 65 mph in the greater Seattle Metro area, and perhaps gusts to 70 mph in the Everett/South Snohomish County areas. Gusts to 70 mph would continue in the areas north of Snohomish County.
(Special note: The Port Angeles/Sequim area, which usually avoids large winds in most wind storms, will get a rare surge of damaging *east* winds late Saturday evening as high as 65 mph as the powerful low moves just west of the region, drawing in a strong wind down the Strait from the east. The High Wind Watch is in effect there as well.
Those speeds would be on par with the infamous Hanukah Eve Storm that hit on Dec. 14, 2006. That storm knocked out power to over 1 million people and some people were without power for several days! Power crews will already be challenged cleaning up from Friday morning's storm so power outages may last longer than usual.
Coast Flooding a concern, but seas not as strong
The one very tiny silver lining to the storm coming in on a more southerly track inland closer to Seattle is that the massive 30-40 foot waves earlier feared will be concentrated farther south into Oregon, leaving 20-25 foot seas along the coast. We could see some minor tidal overflow and some coastal flooding, but it's not expected to be as severe as it was earlier this week.
Winds calm down as dawn breaks Sunday. It remains an active pattern next week, but nothing significant on the horizon.
Stay indoors during the height of the storm, stay safe, and make sure you're prepared.