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Big Spokane windstorm hit one year ago today

Thursday, November 17, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

trees ravaged by stormOn this date in 2015, a brutal windstorm ravaged the Inland Northwest. Winds gusted to 71 mph, downing power lines and plunging more than 250,000 homes into darkness for days.

The National Weather Service has since determined that a storm of that intensity hits just once every 20 to 30 years.

Lessons learned: Like last month's much-overhyped cyclone, forecasters hope to better predict wind speeds and boost their ability to make their warnings heard. Social media can serve as a powerful tool to alert the public, they said.

Also, Greater Spokane Emergency Management urges residents to gear up for calamity. Start by stocking emergency supplies of food, water, flashlights, batteries, and first aid kits. Develop an emergency plan, and identify the safest room in the home’s interior, away from windows that can shatter.

Armchair scientists might marvel at how this "perfect storm" evolved. High winds merged with a low-pressure trough over the Pacific that drifted inland. As winds battered the Cascade crest and swept down the leeward slopes, they gained speed.

Balmy inland temperatures – 70 degrees in Yakima, 65 in Quincy, 63 in Moses Lake – enabled warm air to rise, leaving a vacuum below that sucked the rushing winds eastward at a growing pace.

two men fixing roofing The result: toppled fences and trees, flying shingles, and water damage caused by wind-driven rain seeping through gashed roofs.

It was a busy day for PEMCO!

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