Two damaging storms are set to hit the region. The fun begins Thursday, but the storm that strikes on Saturday has a one-in-three chance of making history, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a one-two punch of stormy weather for the Puget Sound region, and the second swing of wet and windy weather could be a knockout.
That storm is forecast to hit the area Saturday night. On Thursday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Danny Mercer said the storm had a one-in-three chance of becoming one of the five worst storms in Western Washington history.
The odds of history have vacillated with each subsequent forecast. Late Friday morning, the latest Saturday forecast from the National Weather Service raised the odds we’d get hit, but walked back the idea we might be in for a piece of atmospheric history.
Andy Haner, a meteorologist with the agency, said three of four weather models show a substantial Puget Sound windstorm coming through Saturday evening.
“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 40-50 miles west of that line.
The worst case scenario for Saturday calls for a low-pressure system, formed from the remnants of typhoon Songda, to flow over the north tip of the Olympic Peninsula and into the Puget Sound region. One to two inches of rain would fall. Sustained winds would be about 40 mph. Gusts could top 60 mph. On the coast, seas could reach 40 feet.
But the storm could aim north and target Vancouver Island instead, or turn south of Seattle. Mercer said forecasters are watching the fast-moving storm closely as it rides the jet stream toward the West Coast.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Mercer said. “It’s very difficult when you have a storm out in the western Pacific. It has a long way to go.”
Even if Saturday’s storm doesn’t set records, both storms will be dangerous.
“They’re both going to be hazardous. They’re both going to be damaging, causing downed trees and power lines and urban flooding,” Mercer said.
Trees weakened over the summer are likely to come down more easily. Because they’re still carrying their leaves, they’re more likely to snap with added pressure.
“It’s the first wind of the season in Puget Sound,” Mercer said. “The damage tends to be a lot greater earlier in the year.”
Mercer said the weather service is worried about the Washington coast, too.
“Seas could be over 30 feet and possibly 40 feet,” he said. “With that kind of swell moving onto the coast, you’re definitely going to see beach erosion and damage.”