Monday rain adds to record-breaking September deluge

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: September 30, 2013, 7:43 PM

 

Continuing rainfall on Monday pushed Vancouver past 5 inches of precipitation in September — extending a record for the month, and more than tripling the normal amount.

Monday's rain wasn't as impressive as the super-soaker storm systems that rolled through the region over the weekend. In Vancouver, Pearson Field recorded 1.36 inches of rain on Saturday, then another 1.28 inches on Sunday. And high winds at times wreaked minor havoc across Clark County.

Clark Public Utilities counted 10,521 customers affected by weather-related outages at some point Saturday, said spokeswoman Erica Erland. On Sunday, the number was 12,543, she said.

Most of those outages didn't amount to much, Erland said.

"The vast majority of them were either momentary or restored quickly," she said. "We had very few extended outages."

Royal Plains Condominiums in Vancouver was among many places where people cleaned up debris and damaged trees Monday. Manager Bruce Townsend said "at least 20" of the 300 or so trees in the complex lost branches or were otherwise damaged by the storms. Those included two very close calls, he said.

Tree debris

One tree, partially uprooted, was leaning toward a condo Monday morning, Townsend said. Another appeared split down the trunk, threatening to fall onto Northeast Mason Drive in the VanMall neighborhood.

"Half of it was going to go into the road, and the other half was going toward another condo," Townsend said.

A tree service arrived to cut away damaged trees on the property later Monday.

"Luckily, nobody was hurt," Townsend said.

In downtown Vancouver, tree debris, pine cones and branches were strewn across Esther Short Park after the weekend storms. At least three very large branches, about 10 feet each, were felled by the wind from different trees and remained on the grass Monday.

By afternoon, conditions had mostly calmed. But the record books had already been rewritten.

More in the mountains

Vancouver, where records date to 1896, was one of several Northwest cities to set a new rainfall record for September, according to the National Weather Service in Portland. Oregon cities including Portland, Salem, Hillsboro, Astoria and Eugene also set new marks, according to the weather service.

The numbers were even more eye-popping in the mountains. Two locations near Mount St. Helens saw more than 15 inches of rain from Friday morning through Monday morning, according to the weather service. The Swift Dam rain gauge had collected more than 8 inches by Sunday night.

In the Vancouver area, the forecast for the end of the week looks dry, with weather returning to partly or mostly sunny, weather service meteorologist Matthew Cullen said. High temperatures are expected to climb back into the 60s as soon as Thursday.

Around the Northwest

Portland General Electric had crews working overnight to repair downed lines and restore service to customers who lost service in weekend rain and wind storms.

The utility said more than 90,000 customers lost power since the storm began. By 5:30 a.m. Monday service had been restored to all but about 8,000 customers, mostly in the Gresham, Damascus and Canby areas.

Other outages occurred in north Portland, Cornelius and Silverton.

A funnel cloud was reported near an industrial area south of Seattle on Monday morning, and fire officials say high winds damaged the roof of a building as a winter-weight storm that brought record rains and power outages to the Northwest moved through the region.

Parts of the Northwest got more rain in a day or two than typically falls in the entire month. With Monday’s precipitation still to be added, it’s been the wettest September on record in Olympia and the second-wettest in Seattle. Nearly 8 inches fell in Olympia, topping a 1978 record and swamping the usual 1.7 inches that fall in that time, the National Weather Service said.

Sea-Tac Airport’s September total of 5.6 inches came second to a 1978 record, while downtown Portland saw 6.2 inches — the most since record-keeping began in 1872. The previous record for Portland was 5.52 inches in September 1927.

September records also were set in Oregon: Eugene, 6.16 inches; Salem, 6.63 inches; Astoria, 10.51 inches; Hillsboro, 6.10 inches; and McMinnville, 7.58 inches.

Puget Sound Energy had about 12,000 customers out of service about midnight Sunday, the Bellevue-based utility reported. Seattle City Light reported it had about 3,200 customers out of service overnight.


Emily Gillespie and Sue Vorenberg of The Columbian and The Associated Press contributed to this report.