smoke

It’s been an exciting 24 hours!

Thunderstorms showed up as expected last night, most of them west of I-5 until early morning. Then 2-5am a large cluster of storms moved from near Lebanon up into the metro area. I wasn’t watching closely, in fact I was asleep Midnight-9am except for an hour around 4am. That’s because way out on the eastside I only saw lots of flashing, some occasional distant rumbling, and a sad 0.20″ total rain! That’s okay since the May 30th event was spectacular way out here. For the central metro area down to Salem it was an epic nocturnal lightning event; and well predicted by models! It was nice to see both summertime events west of the Cascades forecast well.

Some of you witnessed the heaviest rain of your life! Or at least the heaviest in a few years. Some spots saw more than 1″ in an hour, or even 30 minutes. That’s serious tropical moisture. Check out the official totals:

As always with thunderstorms we’ve seen a HUGE variation in rainfall depending on location. Ignore Kelso, something is wrong with that rain gauge. The massive downpours missed some of the official stations. For example, when that cluster of storms started moving north around 1:30am, it just nailed the Stayton/Sublimity areas. Here’s an account from Denny, about 6 miles east of Sublimity… “Last night between 1:30am and 2am I had 1.6″ of rain (mostly in 20 minutes) and 2+ inches of 3/4″ hail with continuous lighting causing a mudslide from a tree farm across the road into my driveway and pasture. Two foot deep in places, what a mess…” This is a pic he sent us, notice all the hail still lying around at least 6 hours later.

Just looking at totals over 1.00″… mid Willamette Valley (click for a better view)

Then the metro area…just totals at 1.00″ or higher

And late this afternoon/evening some flooding rain up in Kelso/Longview area. Lots of flooding on streets and hearing that first floor of hospital was at least partially flooded.

Clearly this marks our turn to fall weather; the long summer dry spell that began around June 20th has ended. The long period of “dependable dry” is over. We ended up with less than 1.50″ rain in the past three months. Looking ahead, I see a few showers tomorrow and then again around Wednesday PM or Thursday next week. There’s no sign of a long dry spell ahead; time to start paying attention to the rain forecast again.

And how about that smoke??? It’s gone! A southwesterly push of clean marine air came into the metro area between 3-4pm; suddenly the air quality went from poor to excellent. Even the Gorge has cleared out. The only spots left with bad air are in Central Oregon. Our 8 day “smoke storm” has ended. It was 10-11 days from Salem south since you folks had 2-3 days of smoke from the Cascade fires while Portland metro area stayed relatively clear. Current readings from www.purpleair.com

All those beautiful green circles…Portland is at 18! That’s even better than most summer days. Another site I use is http://aqicn.org/city/usa/oregon/portland/ In general we stay with good air quality from here on out, that’s unless wind direction turns south or southeasterly again. That would bring smoke north from California, SW Oregon, or Cascade wildfires. But our own fires in the Cascades will be knocked down a bit due to cool weather, high humidity, and some rain from this point forward. Not out, but more of a “creeping fire” instead of torching quickly across the landscape.

That’s it for now, enjoy your smoke and “weather-free” weekend. I’ll be back at work Sunday afternoon and take a look ahead into the last week or so of September. October is right around the corner…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

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