Wind storm set to slam Clark County on Saturday

Gusts up to 50 mph could bring down trees and knock out power

VANCOUVER — A major wind storm is set to push its way up the coast and into Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon on Saturday. The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a High Wind Warning, starting late Friday night through Saturday evening.

David Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, says winds in the metro area should be between 25 and 30 mph, with gusts upwards of 50 mph, especially in the late morning through the evening hours. Southerly winds, like this storm, tend to do more damage during the Spring.

A High Wind Warning is in effect for the Metro area from Friday night through Saturday evening. Photo courtesy National Weather Service
A High Wind Warning is in effect for the Metro area from Friday night through Saturday evening. Photo courtesy National Weather Service

“It is kind of the first one (of the Spring),” says Bishop. “The ground has been a little bit wetter, so it might be a little less secure. We also have some of the budding trees, some of those new leaves can act like mini sails.”

This storm will also bring plenty of rain. Bishop says through Sunday afternoon we could see upward of an inch and a half, or more.

Clark Public Utilities says it has crews on standby, with extra help available if needed. They’re also urging people to be safe around any downed power lines. You can find more information about safety in storms like this, and how to report an outage in your area, by visiting the Clark Public Utilities website.

County officials are also standing by. Clark County Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Frank says they’ve been checking in with police and fire agencies.

“We’ve reached out to a lot of our public agencies and they’ve let us know they’re in control of it right now,” he says. “We just touch base with them to let them know if they need anything, we’re ready.”

The Coast could see gusts of 75 mph or more before Saturday afternoon according to the National Weather Service. Photo courtesy National Weather Service
The Coast could see gusts of 75 mph or more before Saturday afternoon according to the National Weather Service. Photo courtesy National Weather Service

Emergency Management also helps to send out local alerts in case of fire, flooding, or other dangers in your area. They recently launched a public alert system where people can sign up to be notified of an emergency where they live. You can sign up for that here.

As trees fall in a storm like this, calls to 911 tend to rise sharply. Those dispatchers can’t actually get someone there to remove a tree or fix a downed power line.

“911 is designed for when you need emergency help, right now,” Frank says, “so we always try and push that coordinated message that if a tree is down or your power’s out, really to call Clark Public Utilities.”

As wild as things will be around here, it could be much worse out along the coast. Bishop says they’re forecasting sustained winds of 35-45 mph along much of the Northern Oregon and Southern Washington coastline, with gusts up to 75 mph along the headlands and 70 mph in coastal towns. Those winds will start around daybreak Saturday and last through mid-afternoon. If people are planning to travel to or from the coast this weekend, the coast passes will also see wind gusts up to 70 mph, which could make conditions treacherous for drivers.

High winds at the coast also mean dangerous conditions along the ocean.

“We’re talking significant waves, lots of rain, lots of wind,” says Bishop, “So if they do a risk analysis, obviously if they can avoid taking unnecessary risks like, say, going out on jetties, things like that, that would be helpful to them, as well as the Coast Guard and rescuers that have to go out and save lives.”

According to Bishop, things will calm down Sunday, and Monday could be dry and even pleasant. But it won’t stay that way for long.

“We are keeping an eye on another system that could come into play sometime around mid-week, Wednesday-Thursday timeframe,” he says.

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