PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The sound of rain on the roof was almost a novelty this weekend.
Soaking rain hasn’t hit our region since February, maybe even January for some of the totals that we saw this weekend.
That pitter-patter on the windows hasn’t happened all spring.
It was so dry that the rain this weekend was more than we had accumulated all of April and May combined. This was the duty of an atmospheric river that brought in warm and moist air.
Atmospheric rivers are the source of our deep-rooted rains in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Check out the tweet from morning meteorologist Kelley Bayern on Sunday, showing the rope of moisture (atmospheric river) streaming through the Pacific Ocean right to Oregon and Washington.
WEEKEND RAIN RECAP
Sunday was by far the wettest day that we had overall around the Willamette Valley. Rain totals ranging from half an inch to an inch! Rain totals dropped to the east, by the time you made it through the Gorge to The Dalles, the total was zero. Moisture moved from the south up to the north, gradually shifting east through the course of the day. Many locations west of I-5 brought in consistent rains through the day, increasing in intensity east of I-5 through the day.
A lot of notable rain totals this weekend, but there were two record rainfall events according to the National Weather Service in Portland:
...RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM RAINFALL SET AT SALEM OR... A RECORD RAINFALL OF 0.62 WAS SET AT SALEM OR FOR SATURDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 0.53 SET IN 1912. ...RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM RAINFALL SET AT HILLSBORO OR... A RECORD RAINFALL OF 0.78 WAS SET AT HILLSBORO OR SUNDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 0.38 SET IN 1965.
Portland is now at a rainfall surplus for the month of June. Coming in at 1.10 inches this month, nearly a quarter inch above the average. I want to stress, that even with this wet weather this weekend, it’s still possible to fall below average this month. We will have to bring in more rain before the month ends, which may be more difficult than we would expect. It was nice to have three days in a row of measurable rain, which you can see hasn’t happened all month until this weekend.
June gloom is still in effect until about Wednesday. We may still have a few more moments of rain today and Tuesday.
HELPING HAND AND RAIN FORECAST
How much did the weekend actually help? We know that any rain at this point will help add more moisture to the ground, also temporarily preventing poor wildfire conditions by providing rain and higher moisture.
Unfortunately, the key word is temporarily, because there are big picture concerns heading into the summer. According to Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, the rain this weekend was, “helpful in the short term, but it basically just delays the impacts of the extremely dry spring by a couple weeks at most. It helps with shallow soil moisture, vegetation dryness, and a little bit with streamflow.”
Is there another atmospheric river tucked into the month of June? It’s unlikely as consistent summer weather is inching closer and closer.
Well, how much rain is realistic this week? We are looking for a helping hand from mother nature, in a real serious way right now. If we are lucky, it’s possible that a tenth to a quarter of inch will fall around the valley. The rain that will fall Monday and Tuesday will be the departing edge of our large trough that was part of the weekend development. Once this exits the region on late Tuesday, the rain chance diminishes quickly.
We are likely to not have a chance for rain Wednesday through the weekend. As far as the rain totals east of the Cascades, it will be hit or miss. This is due to the nature of thunderstorms popping up and the inconsistency of those thunderstorms. There may be a moment where a downpour develops and then it is sunny and dry for the rest of the day, coming out to very little rain.
WILDFIRE SMOKE AND WILDFIRE ALERTS
With all this in mind, the threat for wildfires will be higher east of the Cascades this week because of the chance for gusty conditions and lightning from thunderstorms. Right now, there is a much larger impact occurring in the southwest, where wildfires have already started, spreading smoke to the sky.
The visible satellite loop below, shows a large wildfire smoke plume in Arizona, with smoke transporting through the air. Temperatures in the southwest are in the triple-digits and it’s dry and breezy.
With those type of conditions, there are red flag warnings and excessive heat warnings all across Arizona, southern California, Nevada and Utah. Conditions are to the point of high alert and caution. Right now, Oregon and Washington do not have any wildfire alerts. We are still managing the start of our season and keeping an eye on the conditions that a forming here.