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Monster storm could wreak havoc across Western Washington

A NASA satellite captured this image of Typhoon Songda early on Wednesday, Oct. 12 as it moved through the Pacific Ocean about 886 miles southeast of Misawa, Japan. Remnants of the storm are projected to bring high winds and heavy rains to the Pacific Northwest this weekend.
A NASA satellite captured this image of Typhoon Songda early on Wednesday, Oct. 12 as it moved through the Pacific Ocean about 886 miles southeast of Misawa, Japan. Remnants of the storm are projected to bring high winds and heavy rains to the Pacific Northwest this weekend.

A double-whammy of storms continues to roar across the Pacific toward Washington state, prompting forecasters to issue both a high wind warning and a flood watch for Western Washington and a gale watch for surrounding waters, including Whatcom County.

But it’s the second storm – a monster low-pressure system spun off Typhoon Songda from the western Pacific – that has forecasters biting their nails. That storm will hit Saturday, but exactly where and how hard is tough to predict.

There is a 1 in 3 chance of the low center directly crossing some part of Western Washington. This would be a worst-case scenario leading to a historical windstorm for nearly all of Western Washington that would be long remembered.

National Weather Service in Seattle

Twin storms packing high winds and heavy rain are forecast to hammer Western Washington from Thursday evening into Saturday, said Danny Mercer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Seattle.

“It does look pretty strong,” Mercer said. “You’ll see the southeast wind start to pick up Thursday afternoon. But the Saturday storm, that looks even stronger. We could be talking additional high winds, even stronger than Thursday. It’ll be a double punch.”

A high wind watch is in effect from 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, to 7 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14. The flood watch starts at noon Thursday and extends to 6 p.m. Friday.

For the first storm, one that’s common for autumn in the Northwest, Mercer said residents should expect heavy rain and winds 25 to 40 mph. Gusts could reach 60 mph.

Three or more inches of rain is forecast for the combined storms.

Forecasters are watching the second storm more closely, however, because it has the potential to cause catastrophic damage on the same scale as the Big Blow of Oct. 12, 1962, which killed 47 people and caused more than $230 million in damage across Northwest Washington and British Columbia, according to a KOMO-TV report on the storm’s 50th anniversary. That storm packed the power equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane with winds well over 100 mph.

In addition to the flooding, gale and high-wind advisories, the weather service issued a “special weather statement” outlining the Saturday storm’s potential threat.

“There is a 2 in 3 chance that the low center will pass hundreds of miles off the coast … making landfall over central or northern Vancouver Island instead. This outcome confines the most damaging winds to the coast and to the north interior (areas north of Everett),” the statement said.

“There is a 1 in 3 chance of the low center directly crossing some part of Western Washington. This would be a worst-case scenario leading to a historical windstorm for nearly all of Western Washington that would be long remembered.”

Forecasts advised residents to prepare for widespread damage and power outages, stocking up on flashlights and batteries, bottled water and canned foods.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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