Flooding Eases in Eastern Oregon

We mentioned a week ago that flooding was possible late this Spring with the heavy snowpack in the mountains.  Then heavy rain developed Saturday and Sunday in Washington and down into parts of Eastern Oregon.  Roughly a line from about Seattle down to Burns.  Very impressive rainfall amounts…one to two inches in the desert areas of southcentral Washington and northcentral Oregon. 

In our viewing area we still have two rivers under flood warnings:  the Grande Ronde in NE Oregon and Lower John Day in northcentral Oregon.  That river caused over a million dollars damage in Grant County around John Day.  The crest has moved down below the John Day Fossil Beds now with the crest at Service Creek just about now.  It’s the 4th highest level ever recorded at that location, within 2 feet of the big 1964 flood.  That’s going to be some muddy water pouring into the Columbia River!

Farther east, as you see in the graphic above, the Grande Ronde River (at Perry) near La Grande crested earlier today at it’s highest level on record.  That’s impressive, although I haven’t seen any reports of damage or widespread flooding in the Grande Ronde Valley yet.  If you have pics send them to photos@kptv.com

For the rest of this week, pretty quiet weather with just a chance for a shower tomorrow and then probably dry Wednesday-Friday.  Looking at the maps I’d say it’s pretty typical May weather, which of course is nicer than we are used to this season.

Farther ahead…it’s back to cool and wet next week, so I’m holding off on planting any warm weather veggies.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

135 Responses to Flooding Eases in Eastern Oregon

  1. umpire says:

    I work downtown, and looking to the east, it seems that there may be some potential – mind you, just potential – building action over the Cascades. Clouds not quite what I would call “thunderheads” yet, but do appear to be building. Will be fund to watch this afternoon.

    • umpire says:

      “fun” not “fund” – dang accounting work!

    • W7ENK says:

      I see that from downtown here too… but if you look a bit more toward the North – perhaps about Mt. Adams area? – there looks to be one helluva nice mature thunderhead over there, anvil and all! 🙂

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Not really much on radar, one red echo

    • W7ENK says:

      One red echo on the back side of the mountains is actually fairly impressive, considering that area is mostly shadowed, especially at lower levels.

    • W7ENK says:

      Looking at the Wundermap, that cell appears to be only half way to Mt. Adams from Downtown, just NE of Stevenson, moving almost due South toward Mt. Hood.

    • W7ENK says:

      In this setup, we’d want to see something pop up to the West of Mt. St. Helens. This might be hard to achieve, as the moisture doesn’t seem to be there. It’s certainly warmer today, so I would think lift would be better than yesterday?

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      I think we weren’t supposed to see storms today due to temps in the mid 60’s. But seeing as PDX is already at 63 maybe that will give us more lift

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      NWS Mentioned the chance this morning, didn’t catch this

      847 AM PDT WED MAY 18 2011

    • W7ENK says:

      In other words, Tyree at the NWS stepped out for lunch, saw the CU/Cb forming to the NE and said: “Whoops, better get something out to cover our hineys!” 😆

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      That cell weakened.

    • W7ENK says:


      We may see several do that before they all collapse and disappear around sunset.

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      If we could get one to develop around St. Helens we could see some action

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      St. Helens is too far west of you Josh…might work for me though.

    • W7ENK says:

      I think he meant the Mount of Saint Helens, as I stated above. Not likely, however.

  2. Garron near Wash. Sq. says:

    Anyone doing some fishing along the Columbia is going to need some extra strong line this week.


    Gonna have to go for a drive and check out the raging rivers today.

  3. SnowedIn - North Plains says:

    Hey guys,

    Completely off topic, but I was just thinking. Wasn’t the winter of ’08-09 a neutral year El Nino/La Nina- wise? Isn’t there a possibility that this year could be neutral?

  4. Beaverton Chris says:

    I am so not shocked when I looked at the latest 7-day outlook, the third 70+ degree day that was forecast for Tuesday is now gone. Am I the only person who thinks this summer will be even worse than last year?

  5. Jory (Sandy & Downtown Portland) says:

    Any chance for Stray Albino Donkeys today west of the Cascades?

  6. W7ENK says:

    Any idea what the weather is going to be like out in the Eastern Gorge tomorrow? I have to drive out to Boardman for work, hoping for a little thunder???

  7. RobWaltemate says:

    Did Mark just say “it’s all down hill now?” I though water always went down hill. Sorry… I couln’t stop myself.

  8. goducks09 says:

    Did anyone hear those awfully loud fighter jets overhead over the last 20 minutes? Haven’t heard those in quite awhile.

  9. chris s says:

    Its looking a little ominous just to the south down here in salem, any idea why that cell seems to be getting stronger now that its over the valley and its almost 8?

    • Austin (Cornelius) says:

      Very interesting. Seems to be moving nww? I don’t know…buut I hope up here in corn town and forest grove we get something during the night.
      I havnt seen any lightning strikes on any maps…but that doesn’t mean things won’t map out the right way. 🙂

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      I think its actually moving SSW

    • Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

      Barely moving to the WNW I think. Lot of rain here right now. Yuck. What happened to that hole we had over us all day?

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Looks like another cell moving along the columbia

  10. Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

    Some pretty good convection occurring over us right now. No lightening yet.

  11. Runrain says:

    There are TWO 7’s on the seven day – and they’re TOGETHER!!!

  12. Karl Bonner says:

    I’m just about to go down to the Columbia to see if it’s running high. Somehow the past 2 days I never managed to make it down there.

    There’s another storm that could hit The Dalles later this evening if the radar is to be believed. But it might swing west toward Mt. Hood instead.

    We got over 1.2″ of rain on Sat. night into Sun. morning here! I bet we won’t have to worry about droughty soil until at least the tail end of June, if that…

    I think I will plant the warm-weather veggies this week, since I live in a much warmer climate than Mark does. About the worst we could get here in late May is low 60s for highs and maybe 43-45 for lows. Not happy tomato or pepper weather but at least tolerable for a few days.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      Record lows in The Dalles are anywhere from 33-38 for the rest of the month, so you can get a lot colder than that 43-45 threshold.

      In fact, The Dalles had a near record low of 38 this morning. Only a degree off the record of 37.

    • Karl Bonner says:

      My apologies for not being more specific. Yes we *can* occasionally see upper 30s in late May. The important thing, however, is that they are almost always a one-night event this late in the season.

      You need clear skies and limited wind to get a really cool night. Trouble is that at this time of year, any pattern that puts us in such a position will mean the very strong late May sun quickly burns off the chill during the day – and if the pattern lasts for more than one day the intense sun and short nights will lead to a warming trend. The way to get a cold night is if the skies clear for the first or second evening after a cold front passes through. The airmass will still be cool.

  13. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    CU looks awful. No good vertical motion, nothing looking agitated. Better luck next time.

  14. W7ENK says:

    East side of the Mountains is starting to light up quite a bit now.


  15. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    As of 3 PM

    Upper Air Analysis
    850Mb: +3c
    500Mb: -27c

    SBCAPE: 250-500J/kg
    MLCAPE: 100-250J/kg
    MUCAPE: 250-500J/kg
    LIFTED INDEX: -1 to -2
    LOW-LEVEL LAPSE RATES: 8 to 8.5C/km
    0-6KM BULK SHEAR: 5kts
    PWAT VALUES: .55″

    • Cherie in Vernonia says:

      what’s it mean????

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280' says:

      That there’s a decent amount of instability over the area, I’m assuming PDX, and that there’s still a chance of some showers/t-storms as we go into the evening.

  16. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    I’ll be back in 15-20 minutes with Mesoanalysis update from 3 PM.

  17. W7ENK says:

    A couple lightning strikes just popped up along the Central Oregon Coast.

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      There’s some tiny little organgish-red blips on the radar

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      And here’s a red echo around Newport on the latest scan

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Now a white echo

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Looks like a nice little storm near Depoe Bay 🙂

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Yea, it sure popped up quick, went from having a faint orange echo, to a red echo, to a white one in consecutive slides. Pretty good convection

    • W7ENK says:

      It looks nearly stationary, but all the stuff around it looks to be moving out to sea.

      As for the Portland area, it looks to me like we’d want to see some development around Estacada to Mt. Jefferson? There’s moisture there, so maybe it will build into something nice???

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Is it safe to say this is the best potential we’ve had over the past few days, cause it seems like it. Getting some really nice sunbreaks here now

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      2 more lightning strikes 😀

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      I like weather channel’s radar a lot better. It seems to update a lot faster than the UW radar.


    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      It has alot less detail though

    • W7ENK says:

      Josh, Yes. Based on my completely non-scientific forecasting methods, I would say that today has the best potential for something exciting out of anything we’ve seen thus far. I wish I knew how to produce those awesome fancy-schmancy numbers Rob posts for us, but alas, I’m clueless… I just look out the window, watch the clouds, watch the radar, look at the lightning map, feel the air outside, cross my fingers and wish and wish and wish and wish!!! 😆

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      The UW radar is stuck from 40 minutes ago for me 😦

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Great attitude about it haha. Hopefully Rob will chime in later this afternoon

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Looks like over the last few scans that the showers over the cascades are becoming more organized and less popcorn like

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Another strike down in southern Oregon

  18. Jesse-Orchards says:

    Interesting looking band of showers moving into the metro area from the SSE this afternoon. Was expecting a nicer day! I don’t see any thunder potential with it but there could be some spots of heavy rain.

    Got cold this morning, 34 at my place.

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Rain just started here lightly, heavy wet drops though. Looks like I’ll be watching for any sign of tstorms today since I’m sick and can’t do much else

    • Josh (Gresham) says:

      Looks like some of the showers have been strong, this is from 12:44

  19. Andrew (Ellensburg, WA) says:

    I noticed that Ellensburg has made the news now down there in the Portland area. I grew up in Portland, OR and have been living in Ellensburg, WA for the last 5 years while attending school at Central Washington University. I thought i would go ahead and share some of the pictures i have taken around town during this flooding event. We are on day 3 now of flooding occuring here in town. Every year we typically got some local flooding as the snow melts, but this year has been WAY different. Areas that have never seen flooding in the history of Ellensburg currently have several feet of water. In fact, there is now a creek flowin straight through CWU’s campus due to the flooding. Many roads are shut down and completely flooded still. A lot of this is due to the fact that we received nearly 2 inches of rain in about a 24 hours period of time, which is insane for this time of year in our location.
    While some of water in the city streets and around campus has started to recede, it is not looking like the Yakima may become even worse as the warmer weather moves in and we get an increase in snow melt from the cascades. In some spots the yakima has flooded nearly a quarter of a mile inland from the river (mainly the lower valley of kittitas county).

    Here are the links to some of the pictures i have taken, let me know if they work. I don’t see any place on here to upload them directly. These are all taken around CWU’s campus in Ellensburg, WA.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Worked for me. Reminds me of days gone by. Thanks for the pics. Hard to find any fun activities with flooding.

  20. So Mark apparently has the power to slip his “reply” comments in ahead of others? Nice!

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Jesse’s comment is just brainless. 😆 That’s why Mark slipped his comment in ahead of his.

      (That would be correct…Mark)

    • Jory (Sandy & Downtown Portland) says:

      No, because he is the MASTER of this blog. He can do anything! 🙂

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Yoy keep constantly trolling Erik’s and Weatherdan’s comments…Apparently you don’t like being on the other end of an insult. 😆 If you don’t like it than stop doing it to others.

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Don’t expect me to say anything I might regret 😆

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I just found out myself!

  21. Roman~Snow-Zone says:

    Cloudy and raining very lightly.. 50.9F, so cool for mid May.

  22. Cgavic sandy Oregon 1,100 ft says:

    34 degs this morn. (and what happened upl in Washington state o/night?

  23. Runrain says:

    Won’t even get green tomatoes this year. Maybe some blue ones (?)

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280' says:

      Ice Blue!

    • Karl Bonner says:

      In 2008 in Eugene, I had a big problem with blossom end rot on my Roma tomato plant. Must have cut my crop almost in half! And the yo-yo of cool weather and brief heat waves seems to play into that scenario.

  24. Mike (Orchards 255') says:

    Seems a little odd, no “blue” over the Northwest!


    • jbpdx says:

      That’s the most encouraging thing I’ve seen. Maybe this blob of misery over us is gonna shift east, finally. We’ll hold them to it. Don’t like that green on the other map though.

  25. Andrew Johnson says:

    Already down to 40.5 here in Silverton.

  26. bgb41 says:

    5/16/2011 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:66 at Rowena( 107 ft)
    Low: 49 at John Day River B(305 ft) & Rufus(185 ft) & Rufus 2E(279 ft)

    High:29 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 21 at Timberline Lodge (7001 ft ) & ANEROID LAKE #2 (7300 ft ) & Mount Hood Meado (6601 ft ) & CRATER LAKE RIM (7050 ft ) & HOWARD Mt Howard (8150 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 29 degrees
    DW0460 Sisters (60/31 ) (3251 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.12″ at MASON DAM & PHIL(3900ft)

  27. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Thanks for the update, Mark.

    Hmmmm t-storm potential tomorrow? Latest 21z SREF suggest this.

    *Forecast Thermodynamics
    SBCAPE: 250-500J/kg
    MUCAPE: 500J/kg
    LIFTED INDEX: 0 to -1
    MID-LEVEL LAPSE RATES: 7.5 to 8.5C/km
    CLOUD TOPS: 20000′ to 22000′
    0-6KM SHEAR: 30kts
    500MB TEMPS: -26c

    Interesting. We may have to monitor Mesoanalysis, Convective trends, and radar tomorrow afternoon. Shear is a bit less than I’d like however, so any strong, organized storms seems unlikely. More likely just a few moderate-strong scattered showers with a 10-20% chance of pulse nature t-storms.

  28. Jesse-Orchards says:

    Already down to 44 here, going to be another chilly night.

  29. W7ENK says:

    Well, that’s good…

    • W7ENK says:

      Oh, and by the time it’s warm enough to plant any “warm weather veggies”, it’ll be too late to plant them anyway, and they won’t yield anything. For maximum yield, corn should have been in the ground two weeks ago at the very latest! After this weekend, the “knee high by the Fourth of July” rule will be completely unobtainable. 😦

      • Mark Nelsen says:

        I’ve planted corn as late as the first/second week of June and it’s done by early-mid September (with normal summer weather). In fact I’ve never planted corn before May 20th at this elevation. So it depends on your location. That rule probably works just great in warmer climates, but only well here when we have an unusually warm June.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:


    • eugene in vancouver says:

      I just planted my tomato plants about a week ago; half of them are in pots that I bring in at night and when it rains, and the other half are outside. All I ask is for a few BLTs and a little bit of homemade salsa without 90% losses like last year!

    • W7ENK says:

      Well, my info comes from a friend that lives in CornField, Ohio and my Great Aunt in Northern CornField, Minnesota…

      I planted my corn last year on April 25th, and it just made “knee high by the Fourth of July”, though it was waist high by July 7th, so it really took off!

      My corn goes in on Sunday, along with some peas and beans. Tomatoes went in their upside-down hangie thingies on Mother’s day. 😀

    • Sandi (Wilsonville) says:

      Our tomato plants are in the ground, but the tomato cages are surrounded in plastic — sort of mini greenhouses. Planted one tomatillo (in a mini greenhouse) for the salsa we also hope to make this year. So far all is well. Hoping it will be warm enough soon to remove the plastic. 🙂

  30. Joe Froncona says:


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