Hurricane-force gusts tonight

This map shows predicted pressure gradients offshore at 5 p.m. Wednesday night. Sharp and tightly space pressure differences create high winds.<br>Click <a href="http://www.dailyastorian.biz/Chinook-Observer/UW_weather_graphic.pdf"&gt;HERE</a> to view pdf.

LONG BEACH - Washington's top weather expert is predicting a major, damaging windstorm Wednesday afternoon and night, "with areas immediately offshore experiencing 60 knot (69 mph) sustained winds and hurricane-force gusts."

In his latest blog posting from about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, University of Washington Prof. Cliff Mass said the approaching storm has strengthened dramatically in recent hours.

"The latest satellite pictures show a profound enhancement of the high clouds around this system. The latest forecast models are even more threatening than last night - this is going to be a major coastal wind event, with damage and power outages."

The weather map accompanying the Cliff Mass Weather Blog (cliffmass.blogspot.com ) shows a big concentration of weather power gathering just offshore from the Long Beach Peninsula at 5 p.m. tonight.

The storm is interesting enough that Mass is encouraging Seattle TV stations to send camera crews to capture first-hand images of the action.

Residents should make preparations for power outages from downed trees and bring all easily moved objects indoors. It would be smart to stock up on batteries, water and low-prep food items. Top off vehicle gas tanks and test generators.

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