A Taste of October (in early August)

We generally expect to see storms pushing across the Gulf of Alaska bringing wind and rain starting as we get more firmly into the fall season. This summer has seen many days with fall-like heavy cloud cover, so perhaps it was fitting to get an early taste of the stormier season today.

With ‘strong summer storm’ in the forecast, I was certainly not surprised to see rain and gusty winds in Sitka as I looked out late this morning. Winds picked up throughout the day at my location (possibly due to windier conditions, but likely also do in part to a change in direction that was more favorable for winds hitting my neighborhood).

There are several weather-related sites that I check each day, and I was interested to see a patch of clear skies extending west from the northern gulf coast in an otherwise very cloudy eastern Gulf of Alaska.

GOES-17 imagery from TropicalTidbits.com ending at 11:15am Alaska Time

The satellite imagery suggested to me that winds were out of the east in that area, and I wondered if the clearing was caused by down sloping winds off the mountains of the Fairweather Range between Glacier Bay and the outer coast. (If so, I wonder if there was warming associated with the down sloping winds).

Source: Windy.com wind intensity around 11am Alaska Time

The wind intensity map showed strong winds near the area of clearing, which did appear to be coming from the east, as they wrapped around the low pressure center further out in the gulf.

In the end, I’m not sure the cloud break there was due to down sloping winds coming off the mountains as I’m guessing, or perhaps something else.

Regardless of the cause, it did not last for much longer before closing up as the low moved closer to land.

On a separate storm-related note. The Cape Edgecumbe weather buoy recently added hourly photos to the reporting page. I am not sure if a service mission earlier this year resulted in a camera upgrade, or if had been there previously and they just started including the buoy cam images on the station infromation page more recently.

In any case, today was the first good storm that has come through since the I became aware of the buoy cam. It’s hard for me to have much perspective on the waves from the photos, but I’m glad to have a chance to get at least a bit of a peak into what conditions are like out there in stormy weather.

From NDBC Station 46084 taken at 4:10 pm Alaska Time (click on image to enlarge)

2 thoughts on “A Taste of October (in early August)”

  1. Thanks Matt. while this is the first major storm in a while, it has been a rolly summer out on the ocean. Our once a week SE / SW has kept things rolling most the week.

  2. Thanks John – interesting to hear what it’s like out there from someone with firsthand experience. Though I don’t really get out on the water much at all, I do like to check the buoy each day, and have noticed there haven’t been too many days that seemed outright calm.

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