Local dry spell gives way to deluge



Less than three weeks ago, weather observers were marveling at the record dry spell that pushed wildfire season well into October.

Dry spell? Remember that?

Since rainfall returned to the region on Oct. 12, many places have easily passed their precipitation average for the entire month. Vancouver had racked up at least 3.57 inches of rain through Sunday — not counting a rainy Oct. 14, when malfunctioning equipment gave no official precipitation reading at Pearson Field. The average for October is 3.07 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Portland.

There’s more on the way. Forecasters expect an “atmospheric river” of subtropical moisture from the Pacific to bring the Northwest significant rainfall at least through Wednesday. The pattern could deliver its heaviest rain Tuesday, with up to an inch or more falling in the Portland-Vancouver area, according to the weather service. Higher elevations and coastal areas could see as much as 3 inches.

Continued wet weather may cause minor flooding in parts of Southwest Washington, according to the weather service. And drivers should watch out for standing water on local roadways, particularly during periods of heavy rain, forecasters said.

That’s a far cry from the bone-dry conditions the region experienced through the summer and early fall. At one point, Vancouver recorded just 0.04 inches of rain during an 83-day stretch.

After seeing extremely low flow levels during recent weeks, the Columbia River has also started to rise some. The river’s stage at Vancouver could top six feet Tuesday, according to the weather service. Flood stage is 16 feet.

Rain should transition to showers by Thursday, before clearing for a mostly dry Friday, forecasters said. The chance of rain should return this weekend and continue into early next week, according to the weather service.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.