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Clifford Mass and Brigid Dotson

Abstract

The northwest United States is visited frequently by strong midlatitude cyclones that can produce hurricane-force winds and extensive damage. This article reviews these storms, beginning with a survey of the major events of the past century. A climatology of strong windstorms is presented for the area from southern Oregon to northern Washington State and is used to create synoptic composites that show the large-scale evolution associated with such storms. A recent event, the Hanukkah Eve Storm of December 2006, is described in detail, with particular attention given to the impact of the bent-back front/trough and temporal changes in vertical stability and structure. The discussion section examines the general role of the bent-back trough, the interactions of such storms with terrain, and the applicability of the “sting jet” conceptual model. A conceptual model of the evolution of Northwest windstorm events is presented.

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