Thursday, January 3, 2019
Forget El Nino, StormFest is about to Hit the West Coast
Things often calm down after January 1 during El Nino years….but not this year…with the U.S. West Coast from central California to Washington State about to be pummeled by a series of storms. Rain, snow, wind? Plenty for everyone.
A view of the latest infrared satellite imagery shows an amazing line-up of one storm after another stretching way into the Pacific. A traffic jam of storms.
Let’s examine our stormy future, using a series of sea level pressure forecasts from the UW WRF weather forecast models (solid lines are sea level pressure, shading in lower atmosphere temperature).
At 10 PM today, a strong low is just off the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
10AM Saturday brings an energetic low center into northern CA.
10 PM Sunday? Another storm hits central Oregon! And another system is in the wings.
That storm is right off our coast late Wednesday.
El Nino late winters generally have less action—not so this year!
What about precipitation you ask? Do you really want to know? The accumulated total through 4 AM next Thursday is impressive, with 5-10 inches over many mountain areas and even 10-20 inches over parts of northern CA, the Olympics and southern BC.
Snow? There will be abundant amounts. For example, here is the accumulated snowfall for the 72 hours ending 4 PM Wednesday. 2-3 feet for the high terrain from the central Sierra Nevada to southern BC. Our winter ski season is secure.
Wind? You bet. Each of these storms will bring strong, damaging winds to a favored area of the coastal zone and mountain peaks.
There is a silver lining of all this action of course: it will provide an immense amount of water to fill our reservoirs and enhance our snowpack, a snowpack that is now in pretty decent shape (see latest summary below). Water resources should be fine next summer.
But all these facts on the ground and favorable forecasts don’t stop some of Seattle’s wacky local media from talking about drought for our region, with the Seattle Stranger being one of the worst (see below). Facts should matter—apparently not at the Stranger.