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Potent Storm To Come On Hard And Fast During Evening Commute

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nullschool (screen capture)
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The low-pressure system takes shape off the Oregon coast.

The Pacific Northwest is digging in for a potent windstorm, which is expected to rake the coast and then hit the inland Puget Sound region around 6 p.m.

The storm has been taking shape off the northwest coast as a tightly wound low-pressure system.

“Yeah, it looks meaning,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Josh Smith. “You’ll see the clouds spiraling around the low.”

Smith said says the Seattle area can expect sustained winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts up to 60. Coastal communities will be hit even harder, especially in Southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.

The storm is likely to come on fast toward the end of the evening commute.

“We’re looking at maybe light winds before that, and then kind of a sudden hit of the strongest winds in the evening,” he said. “You’ll notice it when you’re driving, that’s for sure. You might have to be careful not to swerve.”

Transportation officials said the winds are expected to stay just below the speeds that would force them to close the 520 floating bridge.

“Our latest indications, as far as the forecast, it is not bad enough that  we’re going to have to close the 520 bridge,” said Washington Department of Transportation spokesman Justin Fujioka. “But it is in the range where water may start to splash onto the deck, and that‘s one of the times that drivers do tend to panic, stop their vehicles or abandon their vehicles.”

Fujioka said abandoned vehicles could cause officials to shut the bridge down even if the winds don’t.

High winds could also knock down trees and power lines. The storm is expected die down overnight. 

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The above photo is a screen capture of the map at earth.nullschool.net.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.