Heavy Rain Wrap: Similar to 1996?

11:45pm Wednesday…

It’s been an incredibly busy 3 days.  Not only was the forecasting tough initially, but extra updates to the news people, a school visit, extra hits in the shows, more social media updates etc…

There have been several references to the last big flood…1996.  In some places it has definitely been similar or worse.  In a line from about Tillamook to White Pass (WA) and a bit north and south of that line I think it was very similar.  For the rest of us it wasn’t nearly as similar.

Here in Portland, a cursory look at rain records says we haven’t seen a 5 day total up around 6″ since the February 1996 flood.  I found 4 instances of 3.70-4.17″ in 5 days, but nothing higher.  In the Portland metro area we were incredibly lucky that line of heavy rain stayed about 30 miles north of us yesterday, or else we would have seen catastrophic flood issues by late evening with an additional 2-3 inches of rain.  That would have been after the 3″ the day before.

BMAC Rain Two Day Total

You think that’s wet?  Take a look at some of the wettest places I could find…these are 5 day totals ending at 10pm tonight:


Those 15-18″ totals in a few isolated spots in the Coast Range and S. Washington Cascades are getting a bit closer to the 1996 values.  Notice the big totals are in that band that sat across the far NW tip of Oregon and into SW Washington yesterday.

The lack of snowpack in the mountains, low reservoir levels, and lighter rain from the metro area southward means no flooding issues for the Willamette River system too.  Take a look at Detroit Lake…up 27 feet in just 3 days, but still 80+ feet the summer level.  The outflow was almost zero…all water was being held back the past few days.


I still expect another 1.0 to 1.5″ rain the next 3 days here in the lowlands, but that will not be enough to bring any rivers back to flood stage.

Tonight a very strong storm is moving by offshore and the associated front will move overhead in the next few hours.  Some nice wind gusts to 35 mph plus brief heavy rain too.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

58 Responses to Heavy Rain Wrap: Similar to 1996?

  1. jimbo says:

    Current satellite photo is a thing of beauty for ski resorts

  2. W7ENK says:

    Since most folks here in the PNW aren’t used to the whole concept of tornadoes, many people may not know exactly what to do when confronted by one.

    These tips should help:

    You’re welcome!

  3. W7ENK says:

    Now it’s Molalla’s turn!!

    248 PM PST THU DEC 10 2015


  4. W7ENK says:

    125 PM PST THU DEC 10 2015


    • JJ78259 says:

      Reading this blog today flash floods torrential rains and tornados sounds like San Antonio! 79 degrees out there today and tomorrow sunny but some thunder storms on Saturday!

    • runtmc says:

      I’ve been longing for these San Antonio updates. Timely, relevant, congruous.

  5. Just had huge thunder booms near my house. I only saw one flash, (Near McLoughlin & Park ave in Milwaukie).

  6. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    That was the loudest roll of thunder I have heard since I moved here in Oak Grove, and likely the loudest I have heard or seen since the early 2000s.

    I did get video of it, might upload it. This is insane, this is one of the most active Decembers that I can remember all things considered.

    Also, please be safe everyone in Battleground.

  7. runrain says:

    Looks like Salem’s under the gun right now.

  8. High Desert Mat says:

    All I have to say is wow. What an active start to winter. I sure hope it continues throughout winter. Hope everyone is ok on Battleground.
    Wind, snow, flooding, and cold sun. What else can we ask for in the NW for winter?

  9. W7ENK says:

    Tornado just hit Battleground, confirmed by Cowlitz County, Clark County Emergency management. Reports of damage to fences, homes, trees down, people trapped in overturned cars.

    Well defined debris ball visible on radar passing right through the heart of downtown Battleground.

  10. lilfoot123 says:

    Peeps saying a tornado just hit Battleground & half the town without power! Confirmation

  11. Jeff Maher says:

    Have had several employees who live in and around Battleground report they’ve received calls from kids, neighbors, spouses that a tornado touched down there.

  12. Jason Hougak says:

    The sky looks erie

  13. Jason Hougak says:

    It’s pouring in Boring/ Damascus and it’s not showing it on radar.

  14. W7ENK says:

    1112 AM PST THU DEC 10 2015


  15. GTS1K' says:



  16. Eugene Dave says:

    Booming thunder in Eugene right now. I can tell that the one of the most recent strikes was right over my house. Saw the flash and the thunder followed about 2 seconds later. The entire house shook. Score!

  17. lilfoot123 says:

    Please turn off the hose Mother Nature! Or atleast snow! Cowlitz County soaked enough! No school in Kalama Kelso Longview the latter two teachers stuck south of Woodland slide in I5! I have 6 ways off my road on the hill two are blocked! Well snow when & where? I heard next weekend possibly

  18. Steven James says:

    Uh … I’m in Beaverton, near Elmonica. I haven’t seen anything “of interest” this morning. Makes me jealous, though.

  19. paulbeugene says:

    Given the SPC convective outlook from this morning for today, maybe we should be on the lookout for those fleeting funnels. If there would be a repeat of the Aumsville tornado maybe today is the day. Seems most of the convection is most active west of coast range.
    Will be on scud watch

  20. pappoose in scappoose says:

    “The atmosphere is not done with us yet.”


    • lilfoot123 says:

      I was awakened by heavy rain & wind around 5:45am! I checked the Cowlitz County school district closures at that time on here! Waiting for the albino donkeys

  21. W7ENK says:

    Was awakened again this morning sometime between 3:30 and 4am by wind gusts and heavy rain. I also thought I might have heard thunder, but before coming fully into consciousness it stopped, and I didn’t hear it again so I just went back to sleep. Definitely saw lightning and heard thunder over the South end of Milwaukie at 6:30 this morning while waiting for the train. 3 or 4 decent flashes/booms. Exciting, but frustrating that I wasn’t in a position to watch and enjoy it.

    Looks like the Coast from Lincoln City up to Tillamöök got pounded by lightning this morning!

  22. pappoose in scappoose says:

    I really like nice wind gusts, Mark! (I like mean ones too)

  23. paulbeugene says:

    PDX AFD this early AM mentioned the storm in Eugene last night. I saw some flashes probably from the power grid, not lightning, and the winds were consistently unidirectional and not erratic. I don’t think it was a thunderstorm. We did end up getting a thunderstorm later on

  24. pappoose in scappoose says:

    They’re out there, wandering about!

  25. Jesse-SW Portland Suburbs says:

    Woke up to several claps of thunder and some heavy rain here in Portland’s SW suburbs.

    It has been wonderfully active the last few days!

  26. Jason Hougak says:

    Super stormy with very gusty winds in cascade foothills.

    How accurate are these computer models anyhow. The 6Z shows temps now 5C = 41F, at 850mb = 4,781′ ,while it’s currently 27F at Timberline @ 6,000′ and 33 at Government Camp @ 4,000′. If they aren’t accurate on the current day then how can they be a week plus out?

  27. 990 mb and falling fast here.

  28. alohabb says:

    crazy lighting in Aloha

  29. Anonymous says:

    And a rumble of thunder this morning as a new line of showers pushes through Beaverton

  30. Jane-Forest Grove says:

    I hear Thunder……

  31. WOW! Talk about a strong frontal passage. We might not see this again for a very long time. Look at the PDX-EUG Willamette Valley gradient. Check out the crazy pressure rises at Eugene.
    12 AM was +1.0mb very light northerly flow.
    1 AM now -5.6mb! Abrupt shift to southerly flow. That is a 6.6mb difference in likely less than an hour! In my estimation this could allow for brief strong gusts 35-45mph somewhere in the valley/PDX metro. CLICK THE IMAGE

  32. paulbeugene says:

    Pretty strong front blowing through Eugene, estimate gusts in mid 40s

  33. Bill Owen says:

    Thank You Mark for that very informative post. Excellent.

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