Blizzards, hurricane force winds pound California

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:37 PM GMT on January 04, 2008

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A mighty hurricane-force Pacific storm continues to clobber California with blizzards, damaging winds, and flooding rains. Hardest hit are the Sierra Mountains, where winds at Ward Mountain near Lake Tahoe were 86 mph, gusting to 163 mph, at 11 am PST. The storm responsible is visible just off the coast of Washington (Figure 1), and has a central pressure near 960 mb--similar to that of a Category 2 hurricane. Blizzard conditions will continue over much of the Sierras, with 2-5 feet likely to fall by Saturday. Travel will be difficult of impossible in the northern mountains of California Friday and Saturday. Snow amounts may reach 10 feet by Monday in some mountain regions of California.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of the California blizzard of 2008.

The storm pounded the San Francisco Bay area this morning with remarkable ferocity, bringing winds of tropical storm force to the entire region, accompanied by extremely heavy rain. Sustained winds of 53 mph gusting to 67 mph were measured at the San Francisco airport, forcing cancellation of 35 flights. High winds on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge forced closure of the bridge during the morning commute, when trucks toppled over on both upper and lower spans. Winds gusting to 70 mph were recorded on the Golden Gate bridge. At Mt. Diablo State Park just east of Oakland, sustained winds of 62 mph were reported at 9 am PST. A wind gust of 105 mph was reported at Los Gatos south of San Jose at 12pm PST. Ten inches of rain in 24 hours fell 13 miles southeast of Los Gatos.

In Southern California, the concern is heavy rain and flooding. Rainfall rates of up to an inch per hour are expected in the mountains, with total rain amounts of up to 10 inches expected in the south facing mountains. Landslides and debris flows are likely on the hillsides burned by the recent fires. Strong, damaging winds are expected over much of Southern California, as well. High winds over the the ocean will bring swells of 6-10 feet to the coast and 20 foot seas offshore, and isolated thunderstorms could spawn waterspouts. The storm responsible for the wild weather will weaken and move ashore on Saturday over British Columbia, but will still be strong enough to bring additional heavy rains, high winds, and mountain snows to California through Sunday.

Jeff Masters

Tahoe blizzard 2008 (pmik)
waiting on what is supposed to be a blizzard
Tahoe blizzard 2008
Northern Calif. Storm (sdminer)
A fence that borders the Muni tracks on King Street was downed by heavy winds during the storm that hit Northern California Friday. Taking up a nearly a full lane, traffic was backed up for blocks coming off the 280 and Fourth Street. Photo: Stephen Dorian Miner
Northern Calif. Storm

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102. SBKaren
1:17 AM GMT on January 05, 2008
Bonedog - no the burn areas are much further south. They have made a mandatory evacuation call by 7PM for Modjeska Canyon...one of the burn areas.
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
101. Bonedog
1:14 AM GMT on January 05, 2008
the ten inches was 24 HR RAINFALL MEASURED NEAR LOMA PRIETA AT 2200 FEET.

I dont think that was a burn area

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
100. SBKaren
5:12 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Skye - I just drove by that today. I haven't heard about that levee, but I'll check into it.

This is from the article:

"We're taking the precautions," Majaj said. But "we don't believe the storm is likely to cause any problems."

We've walked up that way in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands area. There is a new development there...a few homes have been built, but they are up on a bluff, so most likely out of harms way. It would be the older homes that would be in jeopardy.
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
99. Skyepony (Mod)
1:02 AM GMT on January 05, 2008



The channel is in such bad shape that supervisors issued an emergency declaration in the fall to speed up the repair process, which cuts through a neighborhood and a proposed development. A breach could inundate thousands of homes, officials have said.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
98. Skyepony (Mod)
12:58 AM GMT on January 05, 2008
A man was seriously injured and his dog was killed this morning when a giant pine tree uprooted by high winds and driving rain crashed through the roof of a riverside home in Sams Valley. (Oregon)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
97. Skyepony (Mod)
12:57 AM GMT on January 05, 2008
Yeah~ gotta hope that wasn't a burn area.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
96. SBKaren
4:55 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Skye - did I read that right...10" of rain????? geesh. that's almost our yearly average. That's incredible!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
95. Skyepony (Mod)
12:41 AM GMT on January 05, 2008
Alotta high winds & up to 10 inches of rain reported in the San Fransico area.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
94. SBKaren
4:47 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Our winds are picking up but NOTHING compared to what they are experiencing up north!

Observed at: 1/4 mile from beach, Seal Beach, California
Elevation: 7 ft / 2 m
[Overcast]
57.8 °F / 14.3 °C
Overcast
Humidity: 90%
Dew Point: 55 °F / 13 °C
Wind: 9.2 mph / 14 km/h from the SE
Wind Gust: 9.2 mph / 14 km/h
Pressure: 30.04 in / 1017.2 hPa (Steady)
Visibility: 10.0 miles / 16.1 kilometers
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds: Scattered Clouds 1000 ft / 304 m
Overcast 2500 ft / 762 m
(Above Ground Level)
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
93. SBKaren
4:43 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Aqua - since you lived up there you might be familiar with the La Conchita area. They had a fatal mud slide there about 2 years ago. You probably heard about it.
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
92. 1900hurricane
6:41 PM CST on January 04, 2008
This storm sure has some winds! It continues to gust at catagory 4 intensity on Ward Mountain, near Lake Tahoe.

MN DY Hour Temp | Wind |
av mx mn | Dir Speed Gst |
1 4 1600 24 29 22 262 79 140
1 4 1500 29 30 29 227 110 158
1 4 1400 29 29 28 218 105 153
1 4 1300 29 29 27 226 6999 (?) 165
1 4 1200 27 27 26 230 56 118
1 4 1100 27 28 26 229 86 163
1 4 1000 26 27 26 224 79 127
1 4 0900 26 27 26 222 71 113
1 4 0800 27 27 27 210 79 124
1 4 0700 27 28 27 206 86 129
1 4 0600 27 28 27 206 73 112
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91. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:58 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
special feature
east pacific basin
149.1w/47.1n UTC 2330 HURR FORCE 4 949^ MAX
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90. aquak9
7:03 PM EST on January 04, 2008
Hi SB. Yeah, I lived in Camarillo for a while, there on the coast of Ventura County. I remember seeing PCH shut down with only an inch of rain due to mudslides. Unbelievably nasty, thick heavy mud rushing in waves like water. I can't imagine what this weather event will do to the area.

Gotta give CalTrans credit, tho, they do an amazing job with the conditions they face.
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89. Bonedog
7:01 PM EST on January 04, 2008
evening aquak.

basically the news services for reports of mudslides.
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88. SBKaren
4:00 PM PST on January 04, 2008
aquak9 - are you talking about mudslides here in CA?
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
87. Bonedog
7:00 PM EST on January 04, 2008
haha that would be funny V2 an avalanche advise for High point LOL.

I gotcha.

I usually open them when i see them pop up on the NWS site
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86. V26R
11:58 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
How many have you seen issued for Highpoint Bone?
Never looked for the before
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85. aquak9
6:51 PM EST on January 04, 2008
Good evening Bonedog, franck, all you other fine folks.

How would we find out about mudslides? Certainly that'll be occurring here in the next 24-48.
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84. Bonedog
6:48 PM EST on January 04, 2008
V2 never seen an avalanche warning before?
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83. franck
11:47 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Levi32 thanks. Nah, that won't happen...probably.
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82. Bonedog
6:43 PM EST on January 04, 2008
JRO where the webcam is is at an elevation of approximately 4,300 feet.
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81. V26R
11:46 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
A heck of alot Franck
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80. V26R
11:43 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Okay never saw something like this before

AVALANCHE WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEDFORD OR
755 AM PST FRI JAN 4 2008

...AVALANCHE WARNING...

THE USDA FOREST SERVICE MOUNT SHASTA AVALANCHE CENTER HAS ISSUED AN
AVALANCHE WARNING FOR THE MOUNT SHASTA AREA OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

THE MOUNTAINS SURROUNDING MT. SHASTA CITY HAVE RECEIVED 2 TO 3 FEET
OF NEW SNOW BETWEEN THURSDAY MORNING AND FRIDAY MORNING...ALONG WITH
STRONG WINDS. AN ADDITIONAL 3 TO 5 FEET OF SNOW IS EXPECTED FRIDAY
INTO SATURDAY ALONG WITH VERY STRONG WINDS. THESE CONDITIONS
HAVE CREATED HIGH AVALANCHE DANGER AND BOTH HUMAN TRIGGERED AND
NATURAL AVALANCHES ARE LIKELY ABOVE 5000 FEET. CONCERNS WILL
CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY AS SNOWFALL AND WINDS CONTINUE TO
STRESS SLOPES.

STAY OFF OF AND OUT FROM UNDERNEATH SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES.

PEOPLE WITHOUT BACK COUNTRY AVALANCHE SKILLS ARE ADVISED TO STAY
OUT OF THE BACKCOUNTRY...ESPECIALLY ABOVE 5000 FEET.

THIS STATEMENT DOES NOT INCLUDE SKI AREAS AND HIGHWAYS WHERE
AVALANCHE MITIGATION IS NORMALLY DONE.


FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 5 3 0 9 2 6 9 6 1 3 OR VISIT
WWW.SHASTAAVALANCHE.ORG

$$
SANDLER


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79. Levi32
2:45 PM AKST on January 04, 2008
8:1 ratio means 30 inches of rain = 240 inches of snow = 20 feet of snow...but that won't happen =P
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78. franck
11:43 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
If this were tropical with thirty inches of rain, how much snow is that?
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77. franck
11:38 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Big weather. Other worldly.
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76. V26R
11:40 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
I was looking at all sea level Bone
whats the altitude there?
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75. V26R
11:39 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Looks like alot of snow to me Shen
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74. Bonedog
6:33 PM EST on January 04, 2008
did you check out the air pressure on the volcano cam link

25.08in (849.4 hPa)

thats one heck of a low pressure
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
73. V26R
11:38 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Lowest pressure I can find so far seems like
Buoy 46207
at 958mb and dropping fast

Link
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72. ShenValleyFlyFish
6:30 PM EST on January 04, 2008
67. N3EG 6:22 PM EST on January 04, 2008
Check out the Mt St Helens webcam today...doesn't look too good up there


It looks to me like the lens froze over and then packed with snow?
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71. V26R
11:34 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
From the chart looks like its dropping even more!

Link
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70. V26R
11:31 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Bouy 46206 has 966mb

Link
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69. V26R
11:29 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
N3EG de KA2AEV HNY dude
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68. cchsweatherman
11:21 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Good Friday evening all. It feels great to be back after a long hiatus from weather.

I cannot remember a storm this powerful ever hitting the Pacific Coast in my lifetime. This is beyond an impressive system and has all the makings for a severe weather outbreak when it enters the Plains. I am just praying to God that everyone in the path has saught shelter inside their homes and have prepared for this storm as this may cause much more damage than any Category 2 hurricane can cause. I have never seen a QuikSCAT image like the one associated with this massive storm. Good luck to all and I hope that you have very little damage.

Before I forget, I have updated my site. I have not been able to edit the main page where I had been writing a special report on this storm, so it is quite incomplete.
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67. N3EG
11:21 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Check out the Mt St Helens webcam today...doesn't look too good up there. Link
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66. SBKaren
3:13 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Those wind produced waves on Lake Tahoe in the picture above are the biggest waves I've ever seen on that lake! That's a monster storm!!!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14560
65. SBKaren
3:08 PM PST on January 04, 2008
Here in southern CA, while the winds have definitely picked up, the rains have subsided again. It was drizzling a little bit ago, but it's already stopped. I haven't noticed any high waves yet, I stopped on my way home from my errands while I was driving along the coast. I guess our hit will come a bit later.
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64. LakeShadow
11:10 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Member Since: August 10, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2134
63. LakeShadow
11:08 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
So its raining pretty hard in the desert right now..what sort of flash flood/mudslide fallout do y'all think there will be?

Feel sorry for the folks that are vacationing at Vegas right now...
Member Since: August 10, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2134
62. Weather456
6:51 PM AST on January 04, 2008
Tropical Weather Outlook for Indian Ocean south of the Equator...

1. An area of disturbed weather north of Madagascar. Circulation remains 25% open based on QuikSCAT derived winds. Microwave passes and conventional satellite imagery revealed some cloud banding around a core of thunderstorms. The disturbance is under 20-30 knots of southeasterly wind shear. Sea surface temperature under the disturbance is at 85F. Potential for development is low to moderate as wind shear is only forecast to drop to 20 knots in the next 24-48 hrs.

2. The remnants of Elnus becoming non-tropical south of Madagascar. QuikSCAT and satellite imagery indicated very well the merger of Elnus with a frontal boundary.

3. Elsewhere, there are no other features of interest.

by W456
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
61. Levi32
1:55 PM AKST on January 04, 2008
51. weatherdogg 1:18 PM AKST on January 04, 2008 Hide this comment.
I know it is subtropical air, but what's the wind chill factor with the 165 MPH gust?

At some point, I think that friction would actually start to cancel out the heat removal effects, so the stat become meaningless.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
53. 1900hurricane 1:21 PM AKST on January 04, 2008 Hide this comment.
A wind gust of 165 mph @ 29*F would yield a wind chill of 1*F.

Link
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lol it just slows down, it's an inverse exponential or logarithmic equation. For example using that same calculator with the temp at 29...a wind at 1000000(1 million) mph would only yield a wind chill of -159, and I can get that in Alaska so it's not out of this world. Gradually it becomes slower as the wind speed increases.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
60. Weather456
6:28 PM AST on January 04, 2008
Tropical Weather Outlook for Northern Australia and the Southwest Pacific...

1. Tropical Cyclone Helen located inland over Northern Australia near 13S-132.5E. Movement towards the east southeast. Position and movement based on surface observations, conventional satellite imagery and microwave imagery. Estimated surface winds are 15 knots. Estimated pressure is 982 mb reported by station 94131 as the center moved over. Current satellite imagery shows a well define tropical cyclone with excellent banding and an irregular central dense cover. Wind shear is current 10-15 knots over the disturbance with a 60 knot outflow jet to the south. Forecast calls for the cyclone to continue west and reemerge over the Gulf of Carpentaria and reintensify over 90C waters.

2. There are no other areas of interest.

by W456





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59. Bonedog
5:49 PM EST on January 04, 2008
simply amazing
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
58. 1900hurricane
4:38 PM CST on January 04, 2008
Apparently, the guage has not failed, because it has a new reading! Although the gust isn't as high this time, the sustatined winds are the strongest yet, and are approaching catagory 3 intensity.

MN DY Hour Temp | Wind |
av mx mn | Dir Speed Gst |
1 4 1400 29 29 28 218 105 153
1 4 1300 29 29 27 226 6999 (?) 165
1 4 1200 27 27 26 230 56 118
1 4 1100 27 28 26 229 86 163
1 4 1000 26 27 26 224 79 127
1 4 0900 26 27 26 222 71 113
1 4 0800 27 27 27 210 79 124
1 4 0700 27 28 27 206 86 129
1 4 0600 27 28 27 206 73 112
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57. tmangray
10:32 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
All of a sudden, the sound of planes has returned to the sky. They must be resuming flights out of the SFO and OAK airports.
56. Bonedog
5:31 PM EST on January 04, 2008
great MODIS image of the storm....

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
55. tornadofan
10:23 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Some of these winds gust could reach EF5 status on the Fujita scale, if it were a tornado.
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54. weatherdogg
10:22 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Cool link! But Mount Whitney is almost 6,000 feet higher--would be interesting to see the winds and temps there!

There is actually a weather station atop White Mt. at 14,200+, which is just a bit east of Mt. Whitney across the Owens Valley. Here is the link:

Link

Unfortunately, there are no wind measurements right now. There usually are, so maybe they took the wind gauge out of service?
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53. 1900hurricane
4:19 PM CST on January 04, 2008
A wind gust of 165 mph @ 29*F would yield a wind chill of 1*F.

Link
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52. tmangray
10:10 PM GMT on January 04, 2008
Buoy 46059 located 357m west of San Francisco up to 35 foot seas at 1:50 PM.

Our wind here along the east shore of SF Bay has shifted from SW to W and much calmer than only an hour ago. Moderate rain continues.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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