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Comparing hurricane wind speeds to Seattle’s strongest storms

History proves that Seattle isn't immune to violent winds. (AP)

Florida is preparing to be hammered by a Category 4 hurricane with 130 to 156 mph wind speeds.

To put that into perspective, the last major windstorm in Seattle — that University of Washington Atmospheric Science professor Cliff Mass called “the strongest summer windstorm in its historic record” — produced 40-50 mph gusts over Puget Sound and 60-70 mph gusts over NW Washington. Mass said that some winds reached 90 mph.

Two people were killed in that storm and more than 400,000 were without power. It was bad enough that President Barack Obama ordered federal aid to help recovery efforts.

In March 2016, a windstorm that reached hurricane-type speeds also knocked out power to thousands. One person was killed in a Seattle park when a tree fell on his car. Gusts during the March windstorm reached 80 mph and above. The National Weather Service reported that gusts at Destruction Island reached 82 mph. In Seattle, gusts were as strong as 62 mph at Discovery park. That windstorm was strong, but not nearly as bad as Seattle has experienced.

The granddaddy of all Washington windstorms that meteorologists reference is the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, which had wind speeds that exceeded 150 mph along the coasts. Winds in the western interior valleys from Eugene to Bellingham reached 100 mph and above. Forty-six people were killed from Northern California to Washington.

The Category 4 Hurricane Matthew that is threatening Florida could produce sustained winds of 145 mph by the time it hits, according to the National Weather Service. About 2 million people across the Southeast were warned to board up homes and flee inland, The Associated Press reported. The death toll has already reached triple digits.

The Pacific Northwest could get the strongest winds it has seen since last winter starting Thursday. But it’s going to be far from the violent storm Florida is faced with. Things are going to get, shall we say, breezy.

The sustained winds aren’t expected to reach much more than 25 miles per hour according to KIRO 7’s Nick Allard. The Puget Sound area could see gusts of up to 35 mph.

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