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Serious Storm Forecast: What Washington Hikers Need to Know

Posted by Loren Drummond at Oct 12, 2016 02:05 PM |
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With high winds and heavy rains predicted across the state, hikers should check forecasts and consider their plans carefully before heading out.

Washington state is in for a stormy week, starting Thursday and peaking on Saturday. High winds and heavy rain are predicted across the state, and the high country of the Cascades and Olympics will see snow. Coastal flooding is also expected. Though there is still some uncertainty in the forecast about exactly how strong the storm will ultimately be, it's going to be very serious and more typical of our severe winter storms.

Maple pass with rain rainclouds andy porter
Stormy weather in the mountains can move in quickly and be severe. If you head out, go prepared, and turn back if conditions deteriorate. Photo by Andy Porter.

Know the hazards, and if you go, go prepared

Starting Thursday, hikers should check the most current forecasts if they are considering heading out this weekend. High winds and heavy rains can mean trees and branches falling in forests, swollen rivers and creeks, and the increased possibility of landslides: creating hazards both on trails and on the roads headed to trailheads. Coastal flood warnings indicate that hikers should also entirely avoid low-lying coastal trails.

As you wait out the storm, catch up on trip reports, guidebooks or start plotting future trips.

If you do decide to head out hiking this weekend, you are responsible for your own safety. Be prepared to drive through severe weather, and carry extra gear and clothing. Choose trails that won't present hazards from flying trees or branches, flooding or debris during strong winds or wet weather. If you travel forest roads, consider carrying a saw or way to clear debris from the road if a tree comes down while you are at the trailhead. Don't be afraid to cancel plans or turn back early if conditions seem to be deteriorating.

If you are signed up to volunteer on a WTA trail maintenance workparty, your safety is always our first priority. Plan on meeting at the trailhead (unless you get an email saying otherwise), and your crew leader may make the decision to cut work short depending on conditions.

Also note that the Verlot and Glacier Public Service Centers will be closed on Saturday, October 15 due to weather conditions.

What the forecast says now:

As of mid-day on Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued severe weather watches and advisories for many counties and regions across the state. They will be updated in the next few days as the forecast evolves, so be sure to check the latest at:

NOAA's forecast for Western Washington:

An impressively stormy period is coming up for Western Washington from Thursday through the weekend. The main impacts will be from flood-producing rainfall and damaging winds. Along the coast, giant waves and coastal flooding are possible this weekend.

Rainfall amounts are expected to be: 1-3 inches over the interior lowlands, 2-5 inches along the coast and in the Cascade Mountains and 4-8 inches over the Olympic Mountains.

Winds [of] 24-40 MPH are possible along the Washington Coast and in the North Interior of Western Washington, with gusts to around 60 MPH. Winds in the Puget Sound region and Southwest Interior could reach 20-35 MPH with gusts [of] 45-55 MPH.

NOAA's forecast for Central and Eastern Washington

A wet and windy weather pattern will develop Thursday night and likely persist into the middle of next week. At this time, it looks like the windiest period will occur Thursday night into Friday. The Spokane Metro area, the Palouse, the Pomeroy area and the west plains will likely experience sustained southwest winds of 25-35 MPH with gusts as high as 50 MPH late Thursday night through Friday afternoon.

Learn more about the storm:

How to hike safely in fall and winter:


Stay Out of Woods

This discussion is too mild.

The woods are no place to be when the trees start to take a beating. When those two or three inch diameter branches break, they become spears. The small branches and needles act as fletching on an arrow. The butt end hits straight down.

Ten or twenty pounds of a branch falling a hundred and fifty feet is no joke.

Posted by:

Olywa on Oct 12, 2016 11:10 PM

Nordique on Serious Storm Forecast: What Washington Hikers Need to Know

Just heard on the radio that the majority of deaths in our windstorms are people in cars that are hit by falling trees.

Posted by:

Nordique on Oct 13, 2016 02:54 PM