Weather Eye: A couple of fine days ahead before winter screams a return

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The sun was sure a sight for sore eyes Wednesday as high pressure and brisk easterly winds developed over the Northwest. Winds were generally 30 to 40 mph in the east county and lighter to dead calm in some western neighborhoods.

Winds at the exposed Vista House at Crown Point above the Gorge reached nearly 80 mph as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. Dry air with very low dew points promised another very chilly morning early Thursday in the wind-sheltered areas.

In the windy areas, it would be much warmer but probably feel colder due to the wind chill. Wind chills Wednesday at Crown Point with the high winds were in the 10-degree range. There were some weather geeks and local media up there braving the elements for adventure.

So, what will this mean for us? Another fine day Thursday and Friday before a major change approaches. As mentioned here and elsewhere, a very strong cold front will move through our local area Saturday into Sunday, bringing some rain and then very low snow levels by early Sunday. Quite a dramatic shift in the freezing levels will occur in a matter of hours overnight. We will remain under a cold trough for a few days afterward, with the Cascades picking up some much-needed snowfall.

The precipitation will be showery in nature after the front, so amounts will be variable. The foothills will see some snow, and perhaps there will be some wet snow even here at city levels in heavier showers. Nothing would surprise me at this point. It just depends on enough cold air arriving and how much precipitation.

The biggest threat would be a few days later, say Tuesday or so, as more of a westerly flow arrives. If the storm track is southerly, we could get snow. If not, maybe some wet snow at first and then rain. Too far out to pin down, but the screaming message is, winter returns, so stay tuned.

Patrick Timm is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at http://weathersystems.com.