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Storms bring heavy rain, hail and thousands of lightning strikes to the Northwest

August 11, 2019; 8:41 AM

It's been a very active couple of days across the Northwest as an unusually potent trough for this time of year has been moving through.

The trough helped bring in much cooler air, and helped fuel numerous showers and thunderstorms all across the Northwest.

Northwest Radar Friday - Saturday

This has been a double-edged sword, as it has brought much-needed rainfall to many areas that are in a drought condition.

However, the thousands of lightning strikes have helped start over a hundred wildfires.

Western Lightning Strikes 8/11

In just the 24-hour period from 3 a.m. PDT Saturday morning through 3 a.m. Sunday morning, there were more than 26,000 lightning strikes across the Northwest, northern Rockies and British Columbia.

The good news is that only a few of the fires started by lightning over the past few days are considered "large."

The rain has been a help to firefighters battling the large Williams Flats Fire (which started back on Aug. 2) in Washington's Colville Indian Reservation. That fire has burned more than 43,000 acres, but is now 40 percent contained, which is somewhat of an improvement over Saturday when it was only 35 percent contained. The fire also did not grow in size on Saturday.

The rainfall has been significant in many areas. Many places picked up more rain over the course of Friday and Saturday than they typically do in the entire month of August.

Those places include:

Portland, OR - 0.91"
Medford, OR - 0.49"
Klamath Falls, OR - 0.54"
Wenatchee, WA - 0.50"
Yakima, WA - 0.62"

Even Northern California got into the mix. Redding received about an inch of rain from Friday into Saturday, which is more than five times the monthly average of 0.18 of an inch.

There was some severe weather along with the heavy rain, although it's always tough to gauge how widespread it is because of how spread out the population is across much of this area.

There were numerous reports of wind damage from around Redding northward into Oregon on Friday. Hail was also reported in several areas.

Perhaps the most notable hail was in Tumalo, Oregon, located just to the north of Bend. Here, the hail was heavy enough to leave a few inches of accumulation, covering everything from roads to crops.


Sunday is shaping up to be a quieter day across Oregon, but it will remain on the active side across Washington, Idaho and Montana, with a scattering of showers and thunderstorms.

The highest risk for severe storms will be across Montana, where damaging winds, large hail and even a tornado or two will be possible.

As the trough finally moves off to the east, a drier pattern will take hold across the Northwest through the early and middle parts of the upcoming week.

However, another potent trough will slide southeastward by Thursday and Friday.

Next Northwest Trough 8/11

This will likely bring another flareup of showers and thunderstorms. These will bring more much-needed rain, but will once again bring a concern for new fires thanks to lightning. Isolated severe storms will be a possibility as well.

The monsoon in the Southwest will stay pretty contained in the mountains through much of the new workweek thanks to the zonal flow.

A ridge will try to build back in briefly during the second half of the week at about the same time as the trough comes into the Northwest. If there are any disturbances around, there could be a brief flareup of activity.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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