Mother Nature’s 1-2 Punch: snow, now high wind warning for Snoqualmie Valley; schools on 2-hour delay, January 15th

For a few days now, Snoqualmie Weather’s Ryan Porter has been watching the potential for a pretty strong Snoqualmie Valley gap wind event – and it looks like the computer weather models now have consensus that we’re going to have some strong wind [gusts] on Wednesday, January 15th. The National Weather Service also has issued a High Wind Warning.

But first, as we’re is still dealing with lots snow on the ground: ALL Snoqualmie Valley schools are on a Two Hour Late Start, January 15th, with Limited Transportations to all areas (A,B,C) – for both AM/PM bus routes. No AM Preschool, AM Encompass, or out-of-district transportation will be provided.

Back to the wind. Here’s Ryan’s latest wind forecast:

Gap winds should start around 6AM – 9AM Wednesday for the Cascade Foothills and ramp up gradually. Expecting peak gusts between 50-60 mph between 3-9PM. Winds should then die down noticeably after midnight.

If this gap wind event goes as expected, it would be on par with the 2019 Valentines Day Storm, a day when we also had substantial snow cover from Snowmageddon.

That wind storm (2/14/2019) wasn’t known to have caused any widespread power outages. There were some isolated cases of property damage – e.g. fallen trees, blown over fences.

At this point I’m not expecting this wind storm to rank among the strongest historically, but will update again if new models fo look to get more serious with this.

Research has shown the strongest gap winds are not only caused by winds accelerating from high to low pressure, but from what Cliff Mass has described as a “high amplitude mountain wave” that can add more juice to these events.  The ingredients for this added boost exist when there’s a wind reversal or layer of stable air above mountain crest level.

Weather models (e.g. Euro and NAM) and civilian access to them has really improved in recent years, so I’m not sure if this type of super-boost Mass describes would typically be forecasted ahead of time.  Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure.  Wind is generally a whole lot easier to forecast than snow showers and convergence zones.

For those new to the Snoqualmie Valley, power outages – at least in Snoqualmie – used to be more frequent and for longer durations. According to Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson two significant upgrades helped noticeably improve things: 1) the major rebuild of the Snoqualmie Falls power plants 1 and 2 – the newer systems give PSE the ability to separate these power sources from the regional grid so as to get local customers back up asap; 2) the construction of the substation at the end of Douglas Street just beyond the Business Park provides backup and redundancy in the local grid.

If you kept your eyes on the radar last night you’ll see the latest snow worry stayed well north of our area. There’s the possibility of a few flakes today, but the east winds are predicted to both dry up precipitation so big accumulations are not predicted.

SR 202 near Snoqualmie Falls, 1/14/20

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