More Stormy Weather rolls in: Gap Winds fire up in the Cascade Foothills

UPDATE | JANUARY 8th, 1PM: It looks like the weather forecasters nailed the wind forecast – that’s 2/2 in the past three days. Weather stations on Snoqualmie Ridge have picked up 50 mph gusts this afternoon. Not to be outdone, the Weatherbug station at North Bend Elementary recorded a 56 mph gust. The low pressure system powering the gusty winds is sitting and spinning off the Washington coast and isn’t forecast to move until tomorrow, so expect the windy conditions to continue through the night and into Wednesday. Snoqualmie Weather expects the wind gusts to very gradually subside after 3PM today – but said gusts could stay in the 40 mph range through tomorrow. [We’ll keep you posted if the National Weather Service extends the Wind Advisory, which is scheduled to expire at 6AM, January 9th.]

The City of Snoqualmie is asking residents to bring garbage cans in as quickly as possible once Waste Management has completed their pickups. Lots of containers are being blown around neighborhood streets. The city is also asking residents to stay off wooded trails as there are reports of flying debris, including branches. Once the wind subsides city workers will clean up garbage, etc in local parks.

Chief Kanim Middle School experienced a partial power and landline phone service outage after a branch stuck a circuit breaker. SVSD said all students are fine and were moved to lighted areas of the building to continue their day.

ORIGINAL STORY:If you’ve lived in the Snoqualmie Valley long enough, you know some of our strongest wind events have come at the hand of ‘gap winds.’ For new residents, that’s what happens when a pressure gradient exists between the west and east… usually a low pressure system is rolling in off the Pacific Ocean while higher pressure exists to our east. In a balancing effort, winds are pulled east to west through the gaps in mountain ranges, producing strong winds for communities situated below those gaps. For North Bend, and Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Pass fuels our gap winds.

As some Snoqualmie Valley residents are still cleaning up from Sunday’s windstorm (followed by a brief bit of snow), the National Weather Service (NWS) has now issued a wind advisory for the Cascade Foothills, warning of a gap wind event. It runs from 6AM Tuesday, January 8th – 6AM Wednesday, January 9th.

NWS says the east wind will be around 25 – 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph possible. Forecasters said weather models are showing a strong cross-Cascade gradient which usually leads to gusty east winds below the mountain gaps.

KOMO News also said there is a slight chance for some wet snowflakes and ice mixing in with rain at times in the Cascade Foothills early Tuesday morning. The Snoqualmie Weather Twitter feed says peak wind gusts might reach 55 mph and should occur around 12PM Tuesday.

At 6:45PM, January 7th, the PSE outage map still showed about 300 homes in North Bend, and another 150 or so in the Fall City/Preston area, without power following Sunday’s early morning powerful but short-lived windstorm – which toppled numerous trees and power poles/line in the hard-hit Wilderness Rim neighborhood near Rattlesnake Lake.

PSE crews in Wilderness Rim area, 1/7/18. Photo: Jessica Besso

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