Marine Weather

Spring Has Sprung!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

The low approaching the Seattle area with the high sitting below.

Weather Bomb

noun: a type of extratropical cyclone characterized by a low pressure system in which the central barometric pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, which can produce hurricane-force winds with very heavy rainfall or snow.

Spring has started off with a BANG . . . or, rather, a bomb.  Yesterday morning at seven o’clock, we were sitting at a comfortable 1016 MB.   The birds were singing.  The sun was shining.  And it was shaping up to be a nice day.   By lunchtime, the wind direction had changed 180° and it started to rain.  Since then, the barometer has dropped to 991 MB and we’re waiting for the proverbial “shit” to hit the fan . . . in the form of a weather bomb.

A strong Pacific storm system is forecasted to pass through the area bringing (continued) rain, isolated thunderstorms, wind, and heavy mountain snow today and tonight.  As the barometer rises ahead of the front, southerly winds are forecasted to increase to 15 knots.  They’ll switch to southwesterlies later this morning and increase to gale force (34 to 40 knots) with the arrival of an occluded front later today.

That’s the forecast.  The reality is that things are already starting to get uncomfortable.   The wind is blowing a steady 18 to 20 knots from the south, stirring up whitecaps on the water, and we’re being pushed around by the wind and swell.   This afternoon, when things go southwesterly, it’ll get really ugly.

Weather bombs aren’t new to us.   We saw them on occasion in New Zealand; but they’re more rare in the Pacific Northwest and don’t carry the same impact due to the difference in latitude, so we’re not too concerned (especially since we’re tied up in a marina).   More than anything, they’re uncomfortable. David and I both suffer from a condition we call “barometer head” – a headache caused by a change in atmospheric pressure – and are walking around feeling like we just got punched in the face.

Needless to say, this isn’t the start to spring we’d hoped for, but it is expected.   The Pacific High is sitting along the coast of Southern California, battling its way north.  Until it wins the fight against the competing lows, the weather will remain unsettled.   We just hope it happens sooner rather than later and there’s some truth to the old adage: In like a lion, out like a lamb.

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