The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Pacific Northwest battered by 100 mph winds, braces for even stronger windstorm Saturday

Simulation of storm expected to slam Pacific Northwest Saturday. (

A powerhouse storm slammed into the Pacific Northwest on Thursday night and Friday morning, uncorking wind gusts of up to 80 to 100 mph and half a foot of rain. An even stronger storm, traced to a Super Typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean, is forecast to hammer the region Saturday.

Saturday’s storm could be the strongest in a decade according to the National Weather Service office in Seattle, which has posted high wind watches for the region. Winds may gust over 60 mph in Seattle and even higher along the coast in both Oregon and Washington.

In Oregon, the Weather Service office in Portland has issued a hurricane-force wind watch for the coast and is calling this event the “Ides of October storm.”

Oregon couple captures video of a tornado spiraling through the coastal town of Manzanita. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). (Video: Reuters)

Computer model simulations show a storm exploding over the northeastern Pacific Ocean Friday night into Saturday, before crashing ashore in northwest Washington Saturday evening. The storm’s central pressure is expected to plummet to 965-970 millibars — which is equivalent to many Category 2 hurricanes.

Western Washington, including Seattle, will have its “most significant windstorm since the Hanukkah Eve storm of December 2006,” the Weather Service said, if the American GFS model forecast is accurate. That storm left many people without power for days.

The European model is even more extreme with its wind predictions. It shows peaks gusts of 70-110 mph belting the Oregon and Washington coastline and gusts of 50-70 mph around the Puget Sound.

There is still some uncertainty in the storm’s exact intensity at landfall and where it will come ashore. These specifics will determine how severe the winds are and the locations that are hardest hit.

Some of the most extreme model solutions that suggested a storm of historic proportions earlier this week have backed off. Even so, those most familiar with Pacific Northwest weather patterns warn this storm will still be very serious.

The town of Manzanita in northwest Oregon is preparing for a new line of storms as it cleans up from a tornado that damaged dozens of homes. (Video: Reuters)

University of Washington professor of meteorology Cliff Mass said the current model solutions show “a remarkably intense storm” and that the forecast track is a “perfect” one for delivering punishing winds to the Puget Sound. He added that the worst windstorms are those that are intensifying prior to landfall, as this one is predicted to do.

The storm is riding along a jet stream racing across the Pacific Ocean at speeds up to 200 mph. It is immersed in a 3,500-mile-long conveyor belt of tropical moisture known as an “atmospheric river” and originated from Super Typhoon Songda.

The storm will not only lash the Pacific Northwest with damaging winds but will also unload torrential rains. Over half a foot of rain is likely at high terrain and several inches closer to sea level. This is likely to result in areas of flooding.

Towering waves, up to 30 feet, and high seas may cause erosion and flooding at the coast.

This is the second in a series of storms on a collision course with the region. The first arrived Thursday night dumping one to three inches of rain at low elevations and two to six inches in the Cascades. A urban and small stream flood advisory was issued in Seattle.

This first wave also unleashed hurricane-force wind gusts in coastal Washington and Oregon. Oceanside, Ore., a seaside area about 80 miles west of Portland, clocked a gust up to 103 mph. Megler, Wash., across the Columbia River from Astoria, registered a 94 mph gust. More than 25,000 residents lost power in Oregon and over 10,000 in Washington.

The front even triggered several severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings along the coast Friday morning, a rarity in the Pacific Northwest.

Law enforcement reported tornado damage in Manzanita, Ore., which social media photos confirmed.