The Snow Eater

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Sometimes strong winds descend our local terrain, such as on the east side of the Cascades. As the air descends, it is compressed and warmed (just like air in your bike pump warms when it is compressed). These warm winds can rapidly melt snow and are often called Chinook winds, with Chinook being a Pacific Northwest Native American word meaning 'snow-eater'. The east wide of the Rockies are also well known for Chinooks.

Quite a Chinook occurred Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning along the Cascades slopes near Wenatchee. On the heights at nearby Mission Ridge ski resort sustained winds of 70-80 mph, with gusts to 121 mph were observed and some home owners with anemometers near Wenatchee reported gusts to near 100 mph. Substantial damage occurred, with power outages to thousands of homes (see picture of tower down).
Take a look at the observations at Wenatchee (see figures). As the Chinook began the temperature climbed from 26 to 45 F in ONE HOUR. And the winds increased from calm to 54 knots (62 mph) over a few hours. Strong winds and warm temperatures rapidly melt (eat) snow. One report I got was that a family went to sleep with 1-1.5 ft of snow on the ground...when they awoke, it was all gone. And many observers in the area that belong to the CoCoRaHs community network reported loses of around a foot overnight. In my book I talk about an even bigger wind storm that hit Wenatchee two years ago...

And did I mention that pineapple express junior is returning? Look at the satellite picture...another nice subtropical stream of moisture...and the computer forecasts show substantial rain...but nothing like what we had last week. Will slow up the dropping of river levels and contribute to soil saturation, which can help promote landslides. Seattle still lucks out with the rainshadow. Good location for the city!
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