Week wraps up with rain and thunderstorms

Weather Blog

Thunderstorms are possible today in the valley

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Expect rain to be the main feature in the morning and throughout the day. Highs reach the low 60s. Weekend Forecast: Sat: rain most of the day, temperatures reach the upper 50s to 60. Sun: morning rain, afternoon drier and partly cloudy upper 60s.

June is a month of transitions and large fluctuations. We’re about a week away from the summer solstice (June 20). The sun angle is higher and daylight hours are close to maximum for the year.

While thunderstorms are possible today in the valley, they are more likely to show up along the Cascade foothills and central/eastern Oregon for the rest of the day. Eastern Oregon could have severe t-storms with damaging wind or hail.

Speaking of hail, we’ve been seeing reports of near golf ball sized hail in central Oregon last week and this week that may surprise you. Are we trading places with severe weather states? Not exactly. You have to look at historical records to understand what’s normal around here.

The following information comes from the Western Regional Climate Center.

Tornado of June 11, 1968, in Wallowa County

This storm struck in very mountainous, unihabited timbered area. Very few persons witnessed the tornado, and those persons were in poor position to actually observed the tornado. Determination as a tornado is based largely on width of the path and appearance of wreckage it caused. Approximately 1,800 acres of prime timber were destroyed, with an additional 1,200 acres badly damaged. An estimated 40 million board feet of lumber were blown down. The storm lasted no more than 5 minutes at any observed point and was accompanied briefly by golfball-sized hail. The storm occurred around 4 pm and had a ground path of about eight to ten miles and nearly 2 miles wide.

Severe Thunderstorm of July 9, 1995, in north central Oregon

A supercell thunderstorm that developed near Redmond traveled nearly 200 miles before dissipating. It produced baseball-sized hail in cities from Condon to Hermiston. Nearly every vehicle in Hermiston was damaged by hail. The local watermelon crop, on the verge of harvest, was a complete loss. The storm spawned flash floods, damaging winds, and even a brief tornado. The National Weather Service’s new Doppler radar tracked the storm and allowed forecasters to provide ample warning. There were no fatalities, but damages to crops, structures, and property were in the tens of millions of dollars.

Deadly Flash Flood on June 14, 1903, at Heppner, Oregon

This was surely the most deadly natural disaster in Oregon’s recorded history. A strong thunderstorm, accompanied by extremely heavy rain and hail, moved near Heppner, Oregon. The storm covered a very small area, probably no more than 50 square miles. Heavy rain fell in a very short time, creating severe flash flooding along Willow Creek, normally a peaceful stream flowing through the town center. The entire town was swept away in just a few short minutes, drowning nearly 247 people. Eyewitnesses say thunderstorm rains arrived as a 40-foot wall of water and the ensuing flood raged through town for over an hour. In all, one-third of the towns’ structures were wiped out. The massive runoff of water was a result of heavy rain falling on the barren rocky hills, then flowing into the Willow Creek watershed. Only fifteen minutes separated the first rainwater in Willow Creek at Heppner and the flood crest! There are no rainfall records available for this storm because the weather observing station was completely destroyed, drowning the observer and his entire family.

A similar fate would have been in store for the citizens of Ione, just 20 miles downstream. However, telephoned warnings prompted an immediate evacuation and residents escaped to high ground. At least 150 homes were destroyed at Ione and bodies were washed more than 40 miles downstream to the Columbia River. https://wrcc.dri.edu/Climate/extremes_or.php

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