PACIFIC COUNTY — The first potent storm of the fall season slammed the Southwest Washington coast over the weekend, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds.
An intense low-pressure system came ashore early Tuesday, knocking out power for several hours across a wide swath of south Pacific County.
Storm combines with king tides
The storm coincided with the first set of annual king tides — in the vicinity of plus 10 feet. The high tide combined with a storm swell and wind waves sent towering 30-foot waves smashing against the peninsula’s southern cliffs.
Storm watchers assembled ahead of high tide at prominent viewing areas at Cape Disappointment State Park from Friday through Sunday. Sunday provided the greatest gathering, with dozens of photographers descending for the anticipated peak of the king tides at about 11 a.m. near Waikiki Beach.
Meanwhile, others gathered near dunes at local beach approaches, where they watched the surging surf and raging waves from a distance. Among them were Seaview residents Steve and Lori Lindemann and Patty Erickson with her dog, Milo. The group leisurely watched the waves from atop a sand dune while offering fair warning to others who dared to proceed farther onto the beach in their cars under the hazardous conditions.
Moments later, a surging wave sent the cars retreating in reverse as other beachgoers ran for higher ground, including Port Angeles resident Clint Soelter.
“This is why I wear shorts,” Soelter joked as the receding wave left him standing in knee-deep foam. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a while.”
Power knocked out
Many residents between Chinook and Oysterville awoke to darkness on Tuesday. Peninsula residents first reported power outages on community Facebook forums around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Issues involving a power line in Naselle knocked out Long Beach and Hagen Substation, according to PUD #2 General Manger Jason Dunsmoore. Downed trees along a substation in Oysterville further complicated the issue, which authorities aimed to address by late morning. Later, another tree fell into a major 115kv line on Bear River, forcing PUD to de-energize line again, pushing back power restoration to the Chinook and Ilwaco area.
Power was yet to be fully restored when the Observer went to press soon after noon Tuesday.
Winds in excess of 80 mph reported by gauges at Cape Disappointment State Park beginning around 4 a.m. were the culprit for the downed trees and subsequent power outage.
Tuesday’s winds were forecast not to arrive before 7 a.m. Tuesday, when the National Weather Service in Portland scheduled a high-wind warning to begin and last throughout the day. Coastal residents reacted that at least this storm actually did arrive, albeit early, as opposed to a predicted strong blow last week that proved to be something of a dud.
As of the early morning on Nov. 16, the Tuesday storm was holding a low pressure of 958-968 millibars, putting the storm near par with the Great Gale of 2007 as far as millibar pressure. It however, still significantly lacks the pressure gradient that was a part of the 2007 storm, meaning while the storm packed a punch it didn’t have the sustained knockout power of 2007.
This week’s winds were predicted to mostly batter Vancouver Island, where it was expected to develop into an explosively intensifying midlatitude storm, known as a “meteorological bomb.” Satellite images Tuesday morning showed a distinctively cyclone-shaped system centered on the island but with an arm extending down across the Washington coast.
“One of the deepest lows to approach our region in years,” is how University of Washington Professor Cliff Mass described the storm in a Sunday blog post.
—Jeff Clemens contributed to this report