Meteorologists warn that Saturday's storm, currently taking aim at the Seattle region, could bring gusts as high as 60 mph.
After a stretch of heavy rain and wind, meteorologists are warning of extreme conditions Saturday when the remnants of a Pacific typhoon could rip through the region.
On Friday, Andy Haner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said three of four weather models now show a substantial Puget Sound windstorm coming through Saturday evening, but the storm might not be as bad as once thought.
“We’re still in for it,” Haner said. But “will this be the biggest windstorm of the past 10 years? I’m starting to see some chinks in that armor,” he said.
A historic windstorm would need to go directly over the Olympic Peninsula and aim at Bellingham, he said. The latest models show the storm tracking about 40 to 50 miles west of that line.
He said the storm will likely bring sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts up to 60 mph to the Seattle area, and compared its severity to that of the storm last March that left a man dead after a tree fell on his car in Seward Park.
“I definitely don’t want to downplay it,” he said.
On Thursday, forecast models showed that the storm could be the biggest the region has seen since the fatal 2006 Hanukkah Eve windstorm that left a million customers without power.
Weather-service meteorologist Danny Mercer said forecasters were closely watching the fast-moving storm, formed from remnants of Typhoon Songda, as it rides the jet stream toward the West Coast. Meteorologists said they will have a better handle on the storm’s tracking later on Friday.
Following Thursday’s wet and windy weather, they said heavy rain would continue Friday, along with a chance of fierce winds in the early afternoon. Rainfall, at least in the form of showers, is likely every day through next Thursday, according to the weather service’s seven-day forecast for Seattle.
Expect winds to pick up throughout the day on Friday, with gusts of 25 to 35 mph — even as high as 50 mph — potentially hitting the Seattle area this afternoon, weather-service meteorologist Dustin Guy said.
Puget Sound Energy responded to power outages Friday, with as many as 23,000 customers losing power. Nearly 20,000 Seattle City Light customers also lost power on Friday.
Officials urged preparation, such as identifying an interior room in homes and businesses for shelter. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray held a Thursday evening news conference to announce the opening of an additional 100 shelter beds for the homeless Saturday and Sunday night at Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion due to the storm.
“I can definitely understand why people are, perhaps, scared with these strong winds,” said Jeff Michalski, of the weather service. “It wasn’t too long ago we had a death in Seattle,” he added, referencing the death of Eric Medalle in March when a massive evergreen tree collapsed on his vehicle in Seward Park.
Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit advised commuters to sign up for email and text alerts about service changes after Thursday’s rains snarled traffic. Also, follow @kcmetrobus and @SoundTransit on Twitter for live updates.
Puget Sound Energy spokesman Ray Lane also emphasized storm-preparation tips: stock emergency kits, food, water, batteries, flashlights and radios. Keep mobile phones charged. Avoid using candles. Also, never approach or touch a downed power line or anything in contact with the wire.
For live weather information, the National Weather Service posts watches and warnings for Western Washington at www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/.
Also, follow the agency’s Seattle branch on Twitter at @NWSSeattle.