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Heavy wind, some rain expected for Saturday’s game

From Justin Shaw of Seattle Weather Blog

The last time the Saints traveled to Seattle, they got blown out.

This time, they might just get blown away.

Windy conditions are expected across all of Western Washington on Saturday as a powerful area of low pressure slams into northern Vancouver Island at daybreak, then chugs eastward across lower B.C. The resulting difference in pressure will lead to widespread gusts from 40 to 45 mph through late Saturday afternoon—making for a raw, blustery playoff game at CenturyLink Field.

weatherAlthough this is more or less routine fare for Seattle—we typically see a handful of strong lows making landfall to our north this time of year—this winter has been remarkably devoid of stormy weather, with the last noteworthy wind event for the area occurring in early November. Since then, we’ve had little in the way of wind—not to mention rain—as high pressure nearby has warded off most of the active weather.

The University of Washington’s WRF weather model shows wind gusts near 40 mph Saturday afternoon—especially from Seattle south.

That’s already changed a bit recently, with a couple of decent fronts bringing close to an inch of rain to the city in the past few days—along with gusts near 30 mph. More of the same is on tap for the rest of today, with occasional rain and a breezy south wind as we head toward the evening.

We calm down overnight, with dry conditions holding through tomorrow morning. Then, a strong warm front approaches from the south, and the real fun begins.

A steady light rain will give way to a moderate dousing by late Friday afternoon, with rainfall totals exceeding half an inch by mid-evening. The rain only increases in intensity as the night wears on, with heavy downpours likely pushing Seattle past the one-inch mark by midnight.

It’s around this time when the winds really begin to ramp up, gusting upwards of 30 mph late Friday night into early Saturday. A few hours later, the strong area of low pressure sweeps in from the Pacific, roaring ashore over the north-central portion of Vancouver Island at a pressure of roughly 980 millibars. The low will head quickly inland, triggering a big uptick in the winds around Puget Sound later in the morning. Current models suggest that the strongest winds will blast through Seattle in the early afternoon—right as the Seahawks-Saints game gets underway. At CenturyLink Field, gusts could hit 40 mph—with speeds closer to 45, or even 50 mph, out over the water.

The one blessing? The worst of the rain should be done by the time the game begins, with the bulk of the moisture clearing the area by mid-morning. By then, most places will have picked up well over an inch of rain, with isolated 2-inch totals possible around Issaquah and North Bend. Temperatures, which will zoom into the mid 50s early Saturday morning, should drop back into the upper 40s by gametime as blustery winds descend on the stadium.

Lifting the Seahawks to victory—and sweeping the Saints out of town.

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