Residents from Northern California to Washington braced for a torrential downpour, hurricane strength winds, and coastal flooding this weekend as the remnants of Typhoon Songda pounded the West Coast.
The National Weather Service issued a number of high wind advisories and hurricane-force wind warnings for residents in Northern California, Washington, and Oregon where two tornados were spotted on Friday.
“This would bring damaging wind gusts to the higher population centers of the I-5 corridor in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland.”
NASA satellites captured the eye of Typhoon Songda on Oct. 12 as it lost cyclone status and became a tropical storm.
As the massive storm approached the West Coast, experts predicted inland winds would reach 60 mph, while coastal areas could expect eight-to-12-inches of rain and exposed areas of Highway 101, which follows the coastline, might be flooded out making travel impossible.
The National Weather Service also issued high surf advisories along the coast, warning residents of “sneaker waves” that could wash up further inland than usual, warned the Weather Channel.
“[They] could easily knock people and pets off their feet and drag them out to sea.”
The storm is expected to reach as far inland as Colorado and Idaho, where residents at higher elevations will most likely experience heavy snow fall.
The storm comes on the heels of an extreme weather system plaguing the Pacific Northwest. Thursday, a 103-mph wind gust was recorded at Cape Meares in Oregon and at least 25,000 residents in the state lost power.
Friday, a tornado that began as a water spout tore through Manzanita, Oregon, where business owner Debbie Harmon told the National Weather Service the storm damaged two city blocks.
“It was a normal beach storm, which we get a lot of, and then out of nowhere the wind went ‘whoooo.’ Suddenly the whole sky was filled with debris. It was just crazy. And then it just stopped.”
Two businesses were destroyed and one home rendered inhabitable, while other area residences experienced severe roof damage; the mayor declared a state of emergency, which gives the small town access to federal funds.
— Scarin FitzGhoul (@ErinFitzgerald) October 15, 2016
Another twister was spotted in Oceanside; there have only been four tornadoes recorded in the area since 1950.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the U.S. Coast Guard evacuated 40 teenagers and six adults who became trapped at Camp David Jr. County Park on the Olympic Peninsula after the storm knocked out power and downed trees blocking the camp’s exit.
With sea swells of 30 to 40 feet, the state is expecting serious beach erosion and coastal damage.
In California, the storm brought high surf advisories and coastal flooding warnings were issued from Monterey to Mendocino, while Santa Cruz braced for prolonged rainfall. The northwest area of the state could see a foot of rain through next week.
In northern Nevada, 76 mph wind gusts helped fuel a raging fire that has already destroyed 22 homes and burned three square miles of rural area.
Saturday’s storm has a one-in-three chance of making history and could ultimately be one of the five worst storms ever recorded in Western Washington, reports the National Weather Service.
“Onshore flow behind the initial cold frontal passage will keep wet weather going along the coast from northern California to Washington into Monday though the focus for heavy rainfall will shift southward to Oregon and northern California.”
Many of the worst storms on the West Coast have started as Pacific Ocean typhoons. In 2009, remnants of Typhoon Melor brought 15 inches of rain to Big Sur and 10 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Typhoon Freda brought the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, which forced a postponement of the World Series Game 6 between the Giants and Yankees.
[Featured image by NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team]