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Memorable warm season extreme weather events west of the Cascades

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 06:24 PM


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There are plenty of threads discussing memorable weather events during the colder months, like windstorms, heavy snow events, etc. However, I don't think there's a thread discussing the extreme weather events that can happen in the warmer months, like thunderstorms and heat waves.


Obviously they're a lot rarer west of the Cascades than they are in the Paulouse, central WA/OR, the Idaho Panhandle, etc. (where thunderstorms and wildfires are pretty common in the summer, and even haboobs can occur), but that doesn't mean they can't happen in areas closer to the coast. Especially in the Willamette Valley which gets pretty hot; days in the upper 80s and lower 90s are a lot more common than in the Puget Sound lowlands or in Whatcom County/Metro Vancouver, and the warmer temperatures (plus the fact that Portland is situated further south) can fuel more potent thunderstorms than one might expect for the PNW.


As an example of this, I don't think the Puget Sound lowlands have ever had a severe thunderstorm watch/warning, ever. However, the Willamette Valley/SW WA have had a handful of severe-warned events. Clark County seems to get the brunt of it. There was the F3 tornado on 4/5/1972 that tore through northeast Portland before killing six people in Vancouver; the 1/10/2008 supercell that also hit Vancouver (ironically, both of these events were during the colder months); the 6/4/2009 severe thunderstorm event in the North Valley; there was even a severe thunderstorm warning around the Columbia Bar area (e.g. Astoria) during the Ides of October windstorm last year. Not to mention the 8/12/14 severe thunderstorm watch for Cowlitz County.


Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. What are your memories of extreme warm weather events that occured west of the Cascades? The 106 degree day in Portland, the 8/3/1999 thunderstorms, the 8/29/2015 summer windstorm, the 6/28-7/3/2013 heat wave (with elevated humidity levels); for you older folk, the 8/23/1993 thunderstorms where that jogger on the Eastside was fatally struck by lightning, etc.

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 08:44 PM


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One of my favorites in recent years was an amazing lightning storm in July 2008 which saw 18 hours of intense lightning with several hours of intense cloud to ground strikes. In fact the summer of 2008 probably had more lightning than all of the other summers from 2000 to 2010 combined. We had a number of very impressive storms that summer.

The 102 degree reading in July 2009 was quite remarkable here also.

Another interesting one was a cold snap that brought lowland frost in early July 1949.

Death To Warm Anomalies!


Coldest low so far 2017-18 = 42 


Posted 17 March 2017 - 09:52 PM


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PacificNW gets reliable summer moisture for the most part. Monsoon is very iffy down here.

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:37 PM

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September 2013 was a fun month.


Posted 18 March 2017 - 02:47 PM


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September 2013 was a fun month.


4 thunderstorm days here and two days of distant lightning. I have 2 of the days noted as strong.
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Death To Warm Anomalies!


Coldest low so far 2017-18 = 42 


Posted 18 March 2017 - 03:23 PM


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I appreciate threads like these.

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:35 PM


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Other than a couple heatwaves (2006/2009 heatwaves) and June 4 2009 t'storms, not really much I can say that were very memorable in the warm season when I lived west of the cascades until late 2010. While few in frequency we definitely can get heat that is deadly and t'storms that can impress. 
06/04/2009 was the last time the lowlands had a warm core tornado, and warm based TOR warning. Nearly all tornadoes west of the cascades are cold cored, same goes for warnings issued that are based on cold core storms. 
I remember hearing reports of people being hospitalized due to asthma attacks (and it's possible not all of them were asthmatic people). I recently read an article about a year back that there is a "thunderstorm asthma" that occurs around the world, although it's uncommon. I don't have asthma myself and there was a storm here in Klamath Falls on June 9th 2015, early in the morning during a frequent lightning event that gave me possible symptoms of this. This one literally had me nauseous every time I stepped outside to take a shot of the sunrise. The air had a "heavy" sensation to it. There was a combo of smells.. also keep in mind this was in the middle of a pretty decent heat wave for early June, which maybe could have contributed to this experience. I also think my high elevation over 4000 feet likely plays a role in exacerbating the environments interaction with the storm, air, ozone, particles, etc. There are explanations in detail how this occurs during storms or during approaching storms. Picture for a moment, upper 60's, sun coming up, lightning every 5-6 seconds from the south and west pretty nearby, and extremely thick/humid air. Then the nausea to add a touch to the experience. Because there was a storm this actually didn't bug me one bit. I weathered through it.
The other storm in 2009 didn't actually give me any symptoms but I definitely could notice heavy smells of pollen, bark/dirt, tree like smells. My brother who happens to have allergies, began sneezing and blowing his nose for about a half hour during the 2009 storm.
06/04/2009 was also the only time I have observed t'storms literally covering most of the entire forecast area. Even on the east sides of Oregon and Washington that sort of thing can be difficult to happen. I had looked back at older radar data from the 90's (back to when KRTX was built in 1995) and couldn't find any similar events like that. I'm sure the last time something this significant occurred was back in May 1993 in western Oregon.
Another thing not frequently mentioned is the longevity of the storms. It seemed like none of the cells really cycled/died, they kept going for hours. They began around 11:00am on KMAX and lasted until 5-6pm just north of the border of WA on KRTX. In terms of radar data available that is just about unheard of (but we do have many more years of radar data to see do we?).
And man, those shelf clouds. I do bring this up from time to time but that was the most exciting sky I've seen so far since I was born. I have now been east of the mountains for over 6 years and haven't seen a sky like it (yet). For those who may not have seen my pictures I can share them if requested. (though keep in mind slight edits were done. Had a cheap cam back then and accidentally had the photos on a low exposure setting... ugh..)
When I was younger I sort of remember August 1999 as being kind of a bigger storm than normal. Forgot the day. And there were multiple days in a row convection occurred that first week of August so I'd need to eyeball some radar data to be sure of my particular storm.. nonetheless that one and the Oct 2 1998 storm in Milwaukie were some better ones. (that one BTW took down a couple trees, and one tree landed on our fence. We were out of power until morning).
For the most part I had a somewhat higher standard set for storms than others who lived in the same area. If it's just a couple rumbles or a downpour it wouldn't really excite me. With that said, there have definitely been a few times west of the mountains that did surprise me and showed potential. The Cascades usually act as a barrier for opposite kinds of climates, except not for the short term, rather long term is the real boundary there.

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Weather Data for Klamath Falls, OR


(Personal Winter Totals since 2010)

'10-'11 = 58.20" (161% of normal)

'11-'12 = 49.00" (136% of normal)

'12-'13 = 16.70" (46% of normal)

'13-'14 = 9.05" (25% of normal)

'14-'15 = 2.85" (8% of normal)

'15-'16 = 54.45" (151% of normal)

'16-'17 = 63.00" (175% of normal)


Nov '16: 1.20" (30% of normal)

Dec '16: 11.10" (123% of normal)

Jan '17: 29.50" (246% of normal)

Feb '17: 12.90" (161% of normal)

Mar '17: 5.60" (224% of normal)

Apr '17: 2.70"


Nov '15: 4.00" (100% of normal) (Avg: 4.00")

Dec '15: 33.10" (367% of normal) (Avg: 9.00")

Jan '16: 10.75" (90% of normal) (Avg: 12.00")

Feb '16: 3.50" (43% of normal) (Avg: 8.00")

Mar '16: 3.10" (124% of normal) (Avg: 2.50")

Apr '16: T




*Max 1 Day Snowfall: 12.40" (01/03/2017)*

*Max Snow Depth: 21.00" (01/07/2017)*, 18.00" (12/24/2015)

Max High (F): 101 (07/02/2013), 99 (07/02/2015)

Min High (F): 6 (12/08/2013), 7 (01/06/2017), 8 (01/05/2017)

Max Low (F): 63 (07/04/2015)

Min Low (F): -20 (12/08/2013), -19 (01/06/2017), -17 (01/05/2017)

Max Wind Gusts:

58-60 (10/15/2016), 60-65 (10/26/2016) ( 55+ MPH (09/12/2016), 67 MPH (01/19/2016), 65 MPH (02/06/2015), 63 MPH (02/05/2015), 62 MPH (02/17/2016),

56 MPH (02/08/2015), 55 MPH (12/03/2015), 58 MPH (10/25/2014), 55 MPH (12/30/2011), 58 MPH (09/04/2011), 54 MPH (03/13/2011), 58 MPH (02/15/2011), 60+ (02/14/2011)

T'storm Days: 8 (2017), 12 (2016), 20 (2015), 21 (2014), 16 (2013), 2 (2012), 12 (2011) - 1980-2015 Avg = 12 Days

Severe T'storms: 4 (08/08/2017), (07/24/2017), (01/19/2016), (08/05/2012)

Vicinity Severe T'storms: 9 (dates below)

09/04/2011, 09/12/2011, 08/12/2013, 08/22/2013, 08/04/2014, 08/05/2014, 06/09/2015, 07/05/2015, 07/09/2015

Earliest Warm-Core T'storm: (04/03/2016)

Latest Cold-Core T'storm (06/17/2016)

Latest <32 low (06/18/2014)

Latest "20's" low (06/11/2016) (28 degrees)


Posted 01 April 2017 - 09:03 AM


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August 1968 was incredibly anamolous for rainfall, in that regard September 2013 was somewhat similar.
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2016-17: 47.2"

2015-16: 11.75"

2014-15: 3.5"
2013-14: 11.75"
2012-13: 16.75"
2011-12: 98.5"





Posted 03 April 2017 - 09:58 PM


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Summer '15 for insane heat in the basin(multiple 110+ readings). Pretty much every other summer gets a good lightning storm or two, can't recall any severe wind/hail events.