Saturday night's storm, though windy, had much less of an impact on the interior western Washington than it might have.

Why was that?

There were two reasons. First, the storm was much smaller than we anticipated. The area around the storms's low pressure center where there were damaging winds was smaller than we had anticipated from the models. This made the exact track of the low center even more critical in determining who would be hit by high winds. And it appears that the low center moved by slightly farther off the coast than we expected.

We took a quick first look at the data from Saturday night to see how the storm’s low pressure center tracked. The models did a good job overall, but the storm moved north and west from it’s predicted path in late afternoon and early evening.

The map below shows the storm’s actual path and forecasted path. This is a rough analysis, as it’s a compilation of low resolution data from every three hours.

The orange Lms is where the storm was predicted to go, and the blue Ls are where the storm actually went.

Map: Model and actual path of Pacific Storm

At 3 p.m. the storm’s computer model predicted position is near the actual position. By 5 p.m. the actual storm has moved well north of the predicted storm. The actual storm center also had higher pressures than the predicted storm, which meant the winds felt from the storm would not be as intense. At 8 p.m. the actual storm’s center was about 40 miles northwest of the model storm’s center. And the model storm’s center continued to have lower pressures, which indicated it would have higher winds than it actually did.

The model appeared to have the storm center go across the northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula. However, it actually passed around 30 miles northwest of Neah Bay. This is small difference in distance, but made a big difference in how wind felt in Puget Sound partly due to the small size of the storm.