I don’t know if they are outthinking themselves, using new systems or suffering from the changes of global warming, but our Seattle forecasters are missing the boat. Several weeks ago, they completely whiffed on overpredicting a dangerous wind storm that barely had any impact at all, and overall the past few years they seem to underpredict the temperature on warm days by 5 degrees. But they also seem to be consistently missing predictions on timing of storms and the amount of rain. For example, today was supposed to be rain, but between .1 and .25 inches, which isn’t much more than a sprinkle. But is raining buckets out there and has been all morning. Last week, they did something similar and I wore the wrong pair of shoes. They need to start putting more information in their forecasts, such as what all the variables are (rather than just saying “Rain”) so people can look at the information and decide for themselves.
Seattle is a mild area. There are only a few days of the year where it is hot (90s) or cold (30s), and despite our reputation for rain usually we are gray and drizzly with most of our rain coming in light-to-moderate storms in November and December, with some showers in the Spring. But occassionally we’ll get some pretty good systems in, usually one or two a year where winds pick up to 30 MPH and we get an inch or two of rain over a 24 hour period. It has always been this way, and I’ve lived in Seattle for all of my nearly 50 years of life.
But a strong system and the remnants of a Typhon are hitting us this week over a few days. Over night and this morning it rained steadily about as hard as it will over several hours (it will rain harder during SPring showers but only for 15 – 20 minutes), and the winds last night were 30+. A major windstorm is forecasted to hit us tomorrow, with wind gusts at 60 MPH, the strongest we’ve seen in 10 years (since 2006). Quite a few times these “big storms,” especially in regards to wind or snow, have a way of falling short of forecasts, so we’ll see. I remember a big predicted windstrom in December 1995 that were forecasted to approach gusts of 70 MPH, so they closed schools early, and it ended up being just a regular windstorm – strong, but not super strong. I think it is remarkably hard to predict wind and snow in Seattle due to mountains East and West, the Pacific Ocean plus Puget Sound Convergence zones. The one time I can remember a wind storm being about as advertised was the windstorm of 2006, and many of our biggest snowstorms usually have been predicted as “a few inches” of snow that suddenly strengthen or veer this way (also, many big snowstorms that were forecasted never materialized).
We’ll see what happens tomorrow. The grocery store was already crowded at 7 AM this morning, though 🙂
Wife M’s aunt J used to talk about the “hurricane” that hit Oregon. For example, there were a number of giant trees in the bottom of the lake where she lived, and she’d say they’d been blown down during the hurricane. I was always told that hurricanes didn’t hit the Pacific Northwest, so thought she was losing her faculties (i.e. she was getting older), but then a few years ago I read about the exceptionally strong storm (bordering on a hurricane) that rolled along the coast in 1962. Today is the anniversary of that storm, when 80 MPH winds hit Seattle and 9 people were killed in the state of Washington.
There have been a few very strong (scary) wind storms (not hurricanes) I remember in my life time. There was a strong one that hit Seattle in the fall of 1981 or 1982, when my parents took us down to Shilshole beach to experience the wind. And there was the strong storm that hit Seattle on Inauguration Day 1993. But the strongest of them all — the only one where I actually worried about our house and safety — was the December storm of 2006, when I thought our chimney was going to topple over. I lay awake for a couple of hours in the night listening to it, wondering how houses could withstand that, until I could hear it finally start to abate around 1 or 2 AM. The wind was literally howling that night, and sounded like a community of banshees. What I remember most about that storm otherwise is the torrential rain the night before, when a poor woman drowned in her basement when a flashflood hit their house. It was surreal, to drown in your basement in the heart of Seattle, and I am sure her loved ones have never forgotten that, and I won’t either.
It wasn’t the most powerful windstorm I’ve seen, but it was strong enough. Heavy rain in the morning before that went away and the winds kicked in during the afternoon. Waning now in the evening but a poor soul driving was killed by a falling tree.
That is one of my fears during a windstorm in the city — a random tree that falls on a car. At least 1 or 2 people are killed that way during every major windstorm here. I personally take solace knowing the odds of something happening to me in those storms are 1 in a million (literally), but that doesn’t help that poor man or his family today. I’m thankful my wife/kids are okay.
There are 250K people without power tonight. I never worry about that for us though. I think we’ve lost power twice in 25 years, and both times it was for just a few hours. That is one of the benefits of living in the city – not too many trees fall on powerlines when everything is concrete and steel.
Forecasting 65 MPH gusts of winds tomorrow.
The only time in my life I’ve been nervous during a storm was during the 2006 windstorm in Seattle when I woke up in the middle of the night and thought the house was going to blown down (steady winds approaching 60 MPH). I do, however, try to avoid trees during windstorms, since it seems like every storm produces a death or two by falling trees 😦
In 2010, I took a walk in a pre-dawn snowstorm in Central Oregon, and the wind was howling so hard and the snow was so thick that I had a difficult time keeping track of where I was although I knew the path extremely well. After that storm, can see how easy it would be for hikers/climbers to perish in the mountains during snowstorms. Yet another reason I will never be a wilderness person 🙂
I was awake in the middle of the night when suddenly the house settled. A few minuntes later I heard sirens, and I knew something was up. It was a natural gas explosion that blew up several businesses in Greenwood area. It is a miracle no one was killed, although 7 firefighters went to the hospital with non-life threatening glass injuries.
Last night, a fairly strong rainstorm came through. Heavy wind and rain all night, and at one point I couldn’t see across the street the rain was so heavy. I don’t remember a wetter winter here since 1999, when it seemed like it rained (hard) at least once a day for months and months.