Grab your ponchos and bolt down your belongings — there’s a storm coming Sunday night.
Beginning its formation near India and Southeast Asia, a “bomb cyclone” crossed the Pacific Ocean this week and is picking up steam, expected to ram into Western Washington and large swaths of Oregon and California on the night of Oct. 24.
One of the worst storms to hit the Pacific coast in recent history, sustained winds in Western Whatcom County are going to reach anywhere from 35 to 45 mph with wind gusts approaching 60 mph in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.
“[Those winds] are going to start picking up this afternoon up until Midnight,” said Kirby Cook, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. “Then after a little bit of a break, [Western Whatcom] will see another round of strong winds tomorrow,” he said.
The extent of the storm is still up in the air, but Whatcom County can expect active weather to persist until early on Tuesday.
Cook said that the wind is going to be at its worst tomorrow afternoon, but sustained winds are going to persist for the entire period.
“Western Whatcom County and the Bellingham area is going to be one of the windier spots in the entire storm, and it’s going to stay windy for longer,” he said.
One of the biggest fears surrounding the wind gusts is the strength of Whatcom’s power grid. With blackouts already a prominent feature in recent weeks, forecasts are predicting that losing power is a strong possibility.
“The longer you have wind, the longer it has to work on things and cause impacts,” Kirby said. “There are a lot of trees that still have green leaves on them, which adds to the list of [debris] that can cause impacts.”
While there will still be widespread rainfall, precipitation is going to be one of the lesser impacts of the storm, with less than a quarter-inch of rain expected in the Bellingham area.
Western Washington University has advised to avoid walking through the arboretum or underneath trees as there is a high likelihood of flying branches. Last year, high winds caused a tree to fall through the roof of a dorm building in the Fairhaven Complex on campus. If you have to drive, use extreme caution.
A group of students braves the rain to play ultimate frisbee on the WWU Communications Lawn outside The Front newsroom on Oct. 22. // Video by Nate Sanford.
Jonathan Tall (he/him) started pursuing journalism at Western after getting his degree in Economics and Political Science. Interested in everything from international politics to environmental issues, you can find him reporting on city news or at the gym failing to deadlift way more than he’s able to.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org