If you live in the Pacific Northwest, prepare for a long weekend that’s probably going to be best spent indoors. Punishing winds and heavy rain (and mountain snow) are on tap through Sunday.

An atmospheric river ushered the nasty weather ashore from northern California to Washington on Thursday and Friday. Tornado damage was reported in Manzanita, Ore., a coastal town with a population of 598 on Oregon’s northern coast. There have only been four reported tornadoes in Tillamook county since 1950, the county where Manzanita is located.


Straight-line winds were also an issue up and down the coast. Winds gusted up to 103 mph in the town of Oceanside, Ore., 30 miles south of Manzanita. Rain drenched the region with up to 8 inches reported in coastal Oregon and northern California and up to 6 inches in the Cascades as of Friday morning local time.

As gross as Friday has been, the weekend is only likely to get worse. Saturday will herald the arrival of the final remnants of Super Typhoon Songda, which tore through the northwest Pacific without making landfall before hooking back toward the U.S. in its current form as an extratropical cyclone. The system will sweep in from the south and likely move up the coast through Sunday.

Ahead of the storm, the National Weather Service has issued a patchwork of wind, rain, flood and wave warnings from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the northern stretches of the Cascades to the entire Pacific Northwest coast. Environment Canada is also expecting severe impacts for southern British Columbia.

PNW atmospheric river

An atmospheric river is helping fuel this weekend's Pacific Northwest windstorm.


Waves as high as 25 feet could batter the coastline and cause widespread erosion while up to a foot of rain is possible along the coast and in the Cascade foothills. That poses flooding problems in urban areas with poor drainage or clogged sewers, rivers and streams and steep slopes. In the higher elevations of the Cascades, the storm could drop multiple feet of snow by the end of the weekend, creating the potential for early turns for skiers in the region.

But the biggest concern is the wind. Forecasts indicate that the storm could start to rapidly intensify over the course of Saturday, which doesn’t bode well for the region.

University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass wrote on Thursday that “the worst windstorms are rapidly intensifying as they make landfall…like this storm.” The pressure for the storm is expected to drop as low as 965 millibars, which is the equivalent of many Category 2 hurricanes, according to Capital Weather Gang.

Where the storm comes ashore will ultimately determine how widespread damaging winds are. With the storm still 1,000 miles away, there’s still some uncertainty about exactly where it will come ashore. Some models have it plowing into northern California, which would likely lead to widespread wind damage on the coast and further inland.

PNW windstorm precipitation

Total precipitation in the Pacific Northwest through Monday morning according the GFS model.

If it stays out to sea longer, that will lessen the impacts inland, though parts of the coast will still likely deal with intense winds through Sunday morning. On the somewhat bright side, winds should be a manageable by the time the Seattle Seahawks game kicks off on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Stadium, though showers will likely linger.

The National Weather Service office in Seattle said that this could be the worst storm to hit the region since December 2006. That storm caused $220 million in insured losses in the U.S. and $80 million (CAD) in Canada. It also downed nearly 10,000 trees in Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park. Here’s hoping Ricky the rooster finds a dry, less wind-swept spot to spend the weekend.