San Juans: Strong Pacific storm expected Friday; 1 inch of snow possible Saturday

A strong Pacific storm will bring potentially gale-force winds and snow to the San Juan Islands and western Whatcom County Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service reported today at 5:02 a.m.

The National Weather Service issued the following storm warning:

“High wind watch in effect from Friday morning through Friday night for the coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca area, San Juan County and western Whatcom County.

“A strong surface low will reach the Washington coast midday Friday then move inland Friday afternoon and evening. A variety of locations have the potential for very windy conditions associated with the low.

“Along the coast, south winds 20 to 30 mph will shift to west and increase to 35 to 45 mph with possible gusts to 60 mph developing Friday afternoon.”

“Land areas adjacent to the strait of Juan de Fuca also have the potential for strong winds Friday. As the low moves by Friday afternoon, west winds will increase and by Friday evening could be as strong as 30 to 40 mph.

”The northernmost zones in the state -- western Whatcom County and San Juan County -- will have windy conditions beginning Friday afternoon. Here southeast winds 20 to 30 mph ahead of the low will switch to northwest Friday evening and possibly get as strong as 30 to 40 mph.

“Most other areas around Western Washington will be windy or breezy during this period. Some areas not covered by the high wind watch may qualify for a wind advisory, with winds of 20 to 35 mph and gusts to 55 mph. Another area that could be quite windy are ridge tops in the mountains.

”Monitor weather forecasts as this event approaches. If a high wind warning is issued for your area, stay indoors if possible. Trees and power lines are susceptible to winds of this magnitude and could create hazards outdoors.”

Winds of 31-38 mph are considered to be moderate gale force; the sea heaps up and foam begins to be blown in streaks in wind direction, and whole trees are in motion.

Winds of 55-63 mph are considered to be whole gale force and are strong enough to break or uproot trees and peel off roof shingles that are in poor condition. At sea, gale force winds result in very high, tumbling waves with visibility reduced by airborne spray.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 44 and low of 37 with rain on Friday. About an inch of snow is expected Saturday, with a high of 38 and low of 27. Sunday will be a cloudy day, with snow possible and temperatures of 35 high and 25 low. Some sunshine will return on Monday but temperatures will remain cool: High 34, low 25.

Weather links: The Beaufort scale is an empirical measure for describing wind speed based mainly on observed sea conditions. To read wind speed descriptions and see related photographs, CLICK HERE.

For latest updated weather forecasts, CLICK HERE.

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