Forecasters: Rain finally on the way locally

Friday expected to usher in wet weekend after long dry spell

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 
photoA man runs barefoot Monday along an access road on the north side of Pearson Field, just south of East Fifth Street.

(/The Columbian)

We knew it couldn't last forever.

After a record-setting run, Vancouver's dry days could finally be numbered. Forecasters expect rainfall to return to the area by this weekend, possibly signaling a shift to a decidedly different weather pattern. The first system, arriving Friday, should bring relief to a region still parched by almost three months of bone-dry conditions.

Rain? Remember that?

"That's much more typical for this time of year," said Beth Burgess, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

An impending onshore push should bring more than just a few fleeting drops to the Northwest, Burgess said. Early models suggest as much as a quarter-inch of rain on Friday, followed by a half-inch or more on Saturday, she said. The pattern is expected to continue into early next week, Burgess said.

Of course, any weather forecast is subject to change. But the consensus is that the region's dry spell will end soon, Burgess said.

That's welcome news for firefighters battling extremely hazardous dry conditions and a rash of grass and brush fires in recent days. Several local and state agencies have outdoor burn bans still in effect. Clark County's ban on all outdoor burning will continue through at least Oct. 15, according to Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway, unless conditions warrant otherwise.

Vancouver's Pearson Field has seen one day with measurable rain since July 20, when a paltry 0.04 inch fell on Sept. 10. Including Monday, that's 79 out of the last 80 days with no measurable rain. And the 0.28 inch that fell between July 1 and Sept. 30 was the lowest ever recorded for Vancouver during that three-month stretch.

Fire officials continue to urge residents to be mindful of dangerous conditions. Last weekend, a fast-moving fire charred more than 140 acres at Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge before crews got it under control.