Potential storm with damaging wind, heavy rain, Cascades snow arriving Friday the 13th


As if 2020 hasn't provided enough weather action already, we may be adding a windstorm to the list this week

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The potential for a windstorm that could impact northwest Oregon this Friday the 13th is growing across the Pacific Northwest.

The incoming weather system could produce damaging winds across the Oregon/Washington coast and portions of the Willamette Valley come Friday. A high surf is also possible, along with heavy rainfall, coastal flooding, and another round of significant snowfall in the Cascades throughout the weekend.

Uncertainty in timing and strength of this wind storm still remain between weather models. Yet several continue to advertise a deep low system with a central pressure around 979mb arriving sometime on Friday.

Two forecasts below from Wednesday morning depict the weather system at large, each a little differently. It is still important to note that the storm’s track could still change before it arrives on Friday as weather models update.

The current trajectory of the GFS model shows (left) the low center making landfall along the southern coast of Washington, then shifting east and inland, just south of the Puget Sound. The European model shows a weaker system arriving further to the north and about 12 hours sooner than the GFS.

Both paths run by these models would likely focus the strongest of winds to portions of the Oregon Coast. High winds from the south-southwest could ramp up for portions of the Willamette Valley into Friday afternoon as well.

Wind Impacts

Finer details on the incoming storm will continue to adjust as we inch closer to Friday. Wind gust strength and the location of the strongest winds will all depend on where this storm makes landfall and how strong it is when it does.

Current model forecasts are flirting with winds gusting to 85+ mph across the Oregon Coast and to 65+ mph throughout the Willamette Valley.

The strongest swath of winds in a storm typically lies south of the center of low pressure. At the moment, this storm’s projected path will put the central and northern Oregon Coast in the bullseye for damaging winds. This could spell out structure damage, downed tree limbs, and power outages heading into Friday evening.

Other Impacts

As the storm arrives, hazardous conditions could hit the beaches. Model forecasts show wave heights growing to 30 feet. The high surf may cause strong rip current to form, sneaker waves, beach erosion, and could move around large objects like logs.

Soggy conditions will pair in with the winds. The weather system is forecast to bring rain totals over an inch to the valley and nearly two for some locations near the coast by Saturday morning.

Snow levels quickly hike to nearly 6,000 feet for a brief moment on Friday as warmer southerly winds usher in. Yet significant snowfall above 5,000 feet is still forecast through Saturday with a foot or two of new snow near and above the mountain passes. Tough and snowy travel likely this weekend.

Not another Columbus Day Storm!

Something to note is the trajectory of Friday’s potential wind storm: its path is unlike major wind storms we’ve seen in our storm history.

The classic or most common path for strong wind storms involve a south to north trajectory, cruising parallel to the coast line. The Columbus Day Wind Storm of 1962, as well as a handful of notable Oregon windstorms, followed this path. Since Friday’s potential wind storm has a west to east trajectory, this could limit widespread wind damage, and focus the destructive wind swath to a more central point along the Oregon coast before losing steam as it moves inland.

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