Remembering the “Kitsap Blowdown of February 13th, 1979”

Western Washington does not usually dance with strong winter storms in the month of February, but there are a few records out there that have detail what rare storms we do get during what is typically termed as the calmest month of winter.

A little over 30 years ago, Kitsap County was the highlight of an incredible windstorm that would very well rival most windstorms that have blown through our region in recorded history; yes, even the Columbus Day storm of 1962.

As Wolf Read records in his article titled “The February 13th, 1979 Windstorm“, the early morning hours of February 13th featured “average winds exceed[ing] 80 mph (and perhaps even reach[ing] 105 mph)” on the Kitsap Peninsula. He also adds “the Hood Canal Floating Bridge finally succumbed to one of the greatest storms to strike the upper Kitsap region.”

I couldn’t find a video displaying what an average of 80 mph wind feels like, but I think this video is pretty close:

What was the extent of damage to the Hood Canal Bridge? Wolf Read continues, “The span remained closed for 3.5 years, and replacement of the lost section cost about $143 million in 1982 dollars.”

So why am I bringing this up now? Although I’m not forecasting we’ll get anywhere near the “Blowdown” of 1979, we’re going to have to confront a pretty wet and windy system on Friday which could prompt a few Wind Advisories/High Wind Watches across the area. Right now gusts look to be in the 30-40 mph range, but this could change for the better or worse. One thing is sure: This storm will translate to 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains.

Saturday will be comparatively pleasant with a few showers and perhaps some sunbreaks. However, I would not rule out the possibility for some lumpy rain Saturday morning as the cold front exists our region.

Stay warm and dry out there! And try not to get blown down,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

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