Sunshine, howling winds, and clear skies for northern lights

Weather Blog

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Say hello weekend! Starting off Saturday on a very cold note thanks to clearing clouds. Upper 30’s to low 40’s will be the starting temp. By the afternoon under some sunshine, temps will reach the mid to upper 50’s.

Be aware easterly winds will really get going during the late morning hours. Winds gusts for Portland may exceed 30-35 mph. See graphics below for duration and speed.

The wind

What you see below depicted on this animated surface chart is an example of why winds will be strong from the east Saturday. An area of low pressure is spinning offshore from Northern California and southern Oregon. It’s what is known as a cutoff low. Why? It’s cut off from the main jet stream, and as a result may meander and bob along without direction.

High pressure is increasing over the eastern Oregon/Washington side of the Cascades in conjunction with a large ridge taking over the Pacific Northwest, way up into Canada. When we get these pressure differences between the Columbia Basin and the other side of the Cascades, guess what happens in the gorge? We suck cold air from the east and push it west. The strongest winds are found where the space is the tightest, hence the biggest gusts are happening in the gorge and out to areas west of the opening of the gorge, aka Portland, Troutdale.

The other weather challenge will be thunderstorms associated with that low meandering near southern Oregon. I’ve seen multiple lightning strikes in that area. The wet unsettled weather will likely move as far north as Lane County. Still, the central and northern Willamette Valley is expecting dry, windy and mostly sunny conditions. Clouds may advance farther north Sunday.

Here are the wind gust forecasts for Saturday.

Northern lights – is there a chance?

Remember it was just a couple weeks ago we had a whisper of northern lights during another geomagnetic storm. People as far south as the Columbia River had a stellar view. If we can keep clouds clear Saturday night, there’s a chance you could see the northern lights. Best bet is to get away from city lights and head north.

Who has seen the wind?

by Christina Rossetti 

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

https://poets.org/poet/christina-rossetti

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