Strong Winds and Heavy Mountain Snows Today

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A lot of weather action today.  A strong front has just moved through Puget Sound and is now pummeling the mountains and Portland (see image below for 8:11 AM).   Behind the front is cold, unstable air that is producing convection (including some thunderstorms).  This unstable air will be moving in this afternoon—so expect showers and sunbreaks over western Washington today.

The front was vigorous enough that is brought fairly strong winds, gusting to 40-50 mph in exposed locations, and was even stronger in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (see below).

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But the real winds are yet to come.   The front is connected to a low pressure center that is now approaching northern Vancouver Island (see larger scale infrared satellite image below).

As shown by the latest UW WRF model forecasts, that low center will move westward, and as it does so, a large north-south pressure difference will develop over western Washington–which should cause a substantial acceleration of winds.  Expect gusts of 30-40 mph over much of western Washington.

Sea level pressure map at 7 AM.

Sea Level Pressure Map at 4 PM

The latest forecast of the National Weather Service HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) model for 3 PM today shows strong gusts (to 50-60 mph) along the coat and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.   Not a good day for a ferry ride to the San Juan Islands.  And 40-50 mph gusts over southern Puget Sound

But as in late night commercials…there is more!    The cold, unstable air, driven by strong flow to the west, will be forced to rise by the Cascades and Olympics producing bountiful snow above 3000 ft—as much as 1-2 feet in places (see map of 24-h snowfall ending 4 AM Monday)

The Cascade snow could use a bit of freshening.

And then on Monday we will have clearing skies and some sun, with dry conditions in the lowlands through Friday.

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