National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

A powerful frontal system packing very strong winds tracked across eastern Washington and north Idaho on Sunday, January 7th. The strongest gusts impacted areas along and just east of the northern Cascades, including the Wenatchee and Waterville areas, where peak wind gusts in excess of 60 mph were clocked between approx. 1300 and 1500 hours. The high winds toppled trees and resulted in widespread power outages and significant property damage.

MSLP and fronts

The National Weather Service in Spokane issued a High Wind Watch for the Wenatchee Area and Waterville Plateau during the afternoon of Saturday, January 6th. The watch was upgraded to a High Wind Warning just before 9pm PST Saturday, January 6th. A sampling of the wind gusts measured during this event are included in the table below. A complete listing of all reports received can be found here.

Location (County)

Peak Gust

Time (PST)

Chelan 3W (Chelan)

E 70-80 mph

115 pm

Manson (Chelan)

74 mph

228 pm

Pangborn Field Wenatchee (Douglas)

72 mph

239 pm

Leavenworth 2NW (Chelan)

67 mph

300 pm

East Wenatchee 7S (Chelan)

64 mph

214 pm

Winchester 12SE (Grant)

54 mph

755 pm

Bayview 13 ESE (Shoshone)

54 mph

405 pm

Carlton 5E (Okanogan)

53 mph

155 pm

Worley 3N (Kootenai)

53 mph

110 pm


Visible Satellite Images

The visible satellite images below nicely illustrate the extensive mountain wave cloudiness that was observed east of the Cascades during this high wind event. Mountain waves develop when relatively stable, fast moving air is forced up and over a topographic barrier that is oriented more or less perpendicular to the direction from which the upper-level wind is blowing.  This deflection creates a gravity wave downwind of the topographic barrier not unlike a wave you might generate by throwing a pebble into a pond. These waves often develop in the lee of the Cascades during high wind events such as the one that occurred on January 7th.

Visible Satellite Visible Satellite Visible Satellite

10 am PST

Noon PST

2 pm PST


By Kerry Jones