Another windy but dry weather system will move through the deserts on Thursday and Thursday night, with a 12-18 hour window of time where the potential for very strong winds will once again exist across the Coachella Valley, the nearby mountains, as well as the high deserts to our north.
As the system comes shore in Oregon tonight, it will turn southeast and strengthen over the deserts of Southern Nevada and Utah. The surface low pressure is expected to deepen to around 994 mb by Thursday evening, which is expected to create howling winds from the southwest and west for Thursday afternoon and night.
There is disagreement among the computer models as to the strength of the upcoming wind event. Thus, the National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Watch. As we get closer to tomorrow, the computer models will hopefully come into better agreement, and may upgrade the Watch to a High Wind Warning, which indicates strong winds are imminent.
At this time, the potential exists for 40-60 mph+ gusts across portions of the Coachella Valley, the San Diego/Imperial County deserts to our south, as well as the Morongo Valley/Pioneertown/Lucerne Valley/Landers areas in the lee of the San Bernardino Mountains.
As we saw in Palm Springs several days ago, localized stronger gusts hit a small portion of Palm Springs from the Chino Canyon area, south into downtown. Gusts briefly appeared to reach or exceed 45-50 mph in a small area in West Palm Springs, with tree damage, power outages and brief blowing dust (see red area below). Other areas experienced gusts mostly under 35 mph, with much less damage. This was likely due to upper level winds being able to briefly descend down the backside of the San Jacinto Mountains around 4-6pm, due to "mountain wave" activity. Interaction with the higher terrain, inversion layers and upper level jet stream winds can sometimes occur in just the right combination to allow the higher elevation winds to slide down the back side of the mountains and briefly surface into the normally calmer areas of west or south Palm Springs.
This upcoming event has the potential to hit localized areas once again, and likely miss others. Be prepared for the possibility of blowing sand, dust, broken tree limbs and blowing debris. There still is a chance the winds will not materialize - but now is the time to secure backyard furniture. Hopefully we will be spared the worst of it.
Winds should shift to the north late Thursday night and Friday, and diminish to 35 mph or less. Winds should be mostly calm for Saturday and Sunday.
Temps will fluctuate a bit the next few days:
- Thursday 90/58 - HIGH WINDS
- Friday 82/56 - diminishing winds
- Saturday 90/60 - stunning
- Sunday 92/61 - stunning
- Monday 88/58 - MORE WIND?
Longer range forecasts suggest the possibility of a larger storm for the end of next week coming ashore in California. However, it's too early to hold high confidence in that forecast at this time.
In the meantime, be prepared for another day or two of windy conditions before it calms down once again. This is a VERY NORMAL pattern for spring. Alternating periods of high winds, along with daily temperature fluctuations up and down as storm systems move by to our north.
Springtime in the desert!