Weather Eye: Wind wasn't as bad as feared; watch for snow

By Patrick Timm, Columbian weather columnist

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It was blustery Sunday night into early Monday, but nothing out of the ordinary, just a good winter storm. Although some computer models predicted a much stronger storm, it appeared to me that it would begin to "fill" or lose strength rapidly the moment it hit land, which is exactly what happened. I mentioned in Sunday's column there could be 40-50 mph winds up and down Interstate 5.

That's not to say there wasn't wind damage; with saturated soils, many trees toppled, and there were scattered power outages. The high-wind warning was justified for the coastal strip but certainly not for the inland locations. The strongest wind in Vancouver was only 36 mph at Pearson Field, and I had 32 mph in Salmon Creek. South of the Columbia, winds topped 48 mph at the Portland airport and 51 at Troutdale. Winds were also in the 40-45 mph range further down the Willamette Valley. Seattle had a gust of 59 mph.

Very cold air followed the front, with snow falling down to 1,000 feet late Monday, and even mixing in the heavier showers around Vancouver during the day. I had several reports of ice pellets and wet snow covering roadways and bark dust in the heavier showers Monday afternoon.

With falling temperatures and more showers headed our way, my thinking as of late Monday afternoon is that good sticking snow could fall as low as 500 feet for short periods -- perhaps even lower if you are under a heavy shower and we get some good cold. So don't be surprised to see traces of snow -- or several inches of it on cars from higher elevations -- today.

Beyond that, more wind and rain and heavy mountain snow, the freezing level bumps up on Wednesday and some areas could get a wintry mix as the next storm comes in and then cooler and lower snow levels through Christmas.

Patrick Timm is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at Weather Systems.