Rainfall records could fall in Southwest Washington this wet, windy weekend

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter and Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith



A wet and windy storm could bring record-breaking rainfall this weekend, according to a special advisory issued by the National Weather Service.

The agency calls the storm “highly unusual” for September, with heavy rains shifting south over the next two days.

Southwest Washington could record between 5 and 6 inches of rain by Monday, the weather service reports, which has the potential to cause localized flooding.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeremiah Pyle said the storm has the potential to break four records over the weekend: each day’s record and the total rainfall for September.

For today and for Sunday, the record rainfall is 1 inch, and for Monday it’s 0.98 of an inch. Pyle said that the record for Sunday will most likely be broken — it is predicted to be the wettest day — though there is record-breaking potential for all three days. The record rainfall for September is 4.88 inches, set in 1911. As of Friday morning, September had recorded 2.19 inches of rain.

Along with the soggy conditions, heavy winds are expected to sweep the region.

The National Weather Service predicts 60 mph gusts on the coast Saturday and gusts with wind speeds up to 35 mph in the valley. Temperatures over the weekend are predicted to be in the mid-50s to mid-60s.

Pyle said that people in the area should watch out for downed tree limbs and some scattered power outages. Landslides are also possible in steeper areas, particularly along the Columbia River.

The advisory cautions people to avoid beach areas where high waves have the potential to sweep people away and bring debris onshore, which could result in injuries.

Pyle said that the wet and windy storm is not typical for early fall.

“It’s highly unusual to see this strong and this wet of a system this early,” Pyle said. “Typically we don’t see this atmospheric river-type event, as we call it, until November, December, January.”

The Washington State Department of Transportation is clearing drains and trimming low-hanging branches along local highways in anticipation for the weekend’s inclement weather.

“We’re just waiting to see what happens,” said agency spokeswoman Magan Reed. Crews will be on standby for any traffic hazards that develop.

Motorists should watch for debris in the roadway, leave extra following distance and drive around standing water. Check tire pressure before heading out and expect some traffic delays, said Trooper Will Finn, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol. If the weather gets really nasty, don’t travel unless you absolutely have to, he advised. For updated traffic alerts, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/vancouver/ or use the WSDOT application for mobile devices.

The Vancouver Farmers Market closed this weekend due to safety concerns about the weather. With forecasted high winds, organizers say that tents may blow over into the market. The market resumes the following Saturday, Oct. 5, and will remain open through the last weekend in October.

Also, organizers have canceled the annual Pick Up the Burn volunteer event in Yacolt Burn State Forest that had been scheduled for Saturday.

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