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Storm pounds Pacific Northwest; L.A. drought continues.

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In a savage display of raw power, the “strongest storm so far this season” blasted the Pacific Northwest with rain, snow, flooding and fierce, damaging winds on Saturday. Spawned by an intense 976 millibar low near Vancouver Island, the storm and associated frontal bands roared onshore across Oregon and Washington Saturday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue numerous watches, advisories and warnings covering a seven-state area.

By Saturday evening, the main frontal band had progressed eastward across Montana, with stormy conditions covering a distance of some 1,500 miles reaching from the Dakotas to eastern Colorado.

Winter storm warnings continued through Saturday evening for the Oregon/Washington Cascades, the mountains of western Montana and Idaho, as well as parts of western Wyoming and much of central Colorado. Heavy blowing and drifting snow continues to make travelling hazardous in all areas above 2,500 to 4,000 feet, with winds gusting as high as 70 mph.

High wind warnings and wind advisories covered virtually all of Oregon, Washington, Montana, northern Nevada, and California's Sierra Nevada. The storm packed two distinct waves of energy, accompanied by heavy rain and snow, with widespread winds gusting in excess of 60 mph. Thunder, lightning, rain and some hail were reported in the Seattle area early Saturday evening.

Once again, surface high pressure continues to block moisture bearing storms from reaching Los Angeles as has been the case so far for much of this season. High altitude winds of 100 knots or more continue to stream across the Pacific far to the north of Los Angeles...with the resultant “up and over” pattern of storms leaving southern California high and dry. Once again, high pressure building in behind this storm to our north will set in motion a dry offshore pattern of gusty Santa Ana winds this coming week.

The entire area, including coastal, intermediate valley, and mountain regions of southern California will be under a red flag warning beginning late Sunday for above normal temperatures, extremely low humidities, and localized strong, gusty northeast winds. This includes Ventura county Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as western San Bernardino and Riverside county areas. The ongoing lack of rainfall and extremely dry vegetation has created what the National Service calls a "critical situation."

Long-range models offer little hope for moisture locally, with more of the same for the foreseeable future.

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