Hurricanes are nearly impossible in our neck of the woods

I've been watching the news reports of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast. They say the eye of this thing is 100 miles wide. While I'm worried for everyone's safety across the country, I'm also wondering about our own here in Oregon. Is it possible for something like this so-called "perfect storm" to come bearing down our coast?

— Monica G., White City

According to The Weather Channel, Hurricane Sandy has combined forces with a large winter storm and is picking up speed and strength as she roars to shore with winds whipping from between 60 to more than 80 mph. Widespread flooding, power outages and structural damage are expected to follow in this massive storm's wake.

We are thinking good thoughts for those in its path on the Right Coast. But fear not, Monica. According to the local weather prognosticators, we are not likely to ever face anything of this sort in the Rogue Valley, or even up and down the Left Coast.

We in the Since You Asked School of Inclement Weather Makes Our Joints Hurt were relieved to hear Chuck Glasier, data acquisition manager at the National Weather Service office in Medford, explain that a local Sandy would be "pretty impossible," according to Hurricane 101.

"The strongest wind we've ever had here in Medford was 58 mph," Glasier. "And that wasn't a hurricane."

While hurricanes can and do form on the West Coast near Baja California in Mexico, Glasier said they don't wind their way up the coast because of water temperatures, currents and such.

"The Pacific Coast waters are very cold, so the tropical storm fronts don't last and come up the coasts. At least they don't come very far," Glasier said.

The remnants of the storms can cause considerable precipitation. But not hurricane-force winds, he said.

Our big Pacific Northwest storms tend to stay farther north, and don't make it down the coast to join with our occasional hurricanes, Glasier said.

"I'd say it'd be pretty impossible for something like what's going on in the East Coast to happen here," Glasier said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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