Lots of Thunderstorms, But Big Storms Avoid Portland


Thunderstorms popped up all over the place this afternoon and evening, with numerous severe thunderstorm warnings issued by Portland/Seattle/Medford NWS offices.  In our area Vernonia saw 1″ hail, 1.3″ hail fell near Carson, and two tornado warnings were issued around Crater Lake.  No tornado was actually seen, just indicated as a possibility on radar.

The far westside of the metro area saw hundreds of lightning strikes around 6pm as a cluster of storms moved north there.  In the central Gorge a severe storm moved through and sure looked dramatic in a pic from Julie Vance:

That led to some flash flooding and mudslide in the Dodson area…as if the 2″ of damaging ice wasn’t enough in January…

Yet we seemed to have a “dome” over the metro area.  Check out the lightning strikes today (cloud to ground only):

Apparently Yamhill and Carlton were the places to be if you wanted to see a light show?  I suppose Government Camp would have worked as well.

There is a new batch of weaker thunderstorms moving up the Cascades right now and we’re seeing lots of flashing from the metro area…enjoy the light show!

Check out the hot temps in parts of Oregon today:

Things will gradually die down overnight and we’re back to typical cool showers tomorrow.  It should be a refreshing day compared to today.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

37 Responses to Lots of Thunderstorms, But Big Storms Avoid Portland

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    SoCal with many areas around 3″ and low snow levels near 4K feet. Our May looks to return wet with 17 day GFS showing 2.5″ plus. This is also verified by the Climate Prediction Center for the 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks. More mountain snows on the way. The thunderstorms last Thursday night were impressive.

  2. I was camping in Yakima Canyon on Thursday evening, and got to enjoy not one but two desert thunderstorms. A slow-moving one that came through between 6:00 PM and dusk, then a fast-moving energetic one that woke me up around 1:00 AM. Both featured lots of lightning.

  3. Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

    The sentiments of the people are not good:

    If we don’t have more sun soon. I volunteer leader of the weenies that can take no more rain am concerned we may have people turn into trees and a worst. Fungus.

    • Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

      If you don’t have time to read all the posts. This was the general theme of things:

    • Paul D says:

      Seen the next five days? All sun.

    • Why are Portlanders replying to a poll from the Southern Hemisphere? Our summer has yet to start — it’s only May.

    • Wednesday and Thursday were disgusting, in my honest opinion. After seven months of soft rain and eye-friendly gloom, the abrupt shift to harsh sun and swampy humidity really took a toll on me. Sitting at work, drenched in sweat after a hot bus ride and 10-minute walk in the hot sun, is not fun. Hopefully we’ll have a few weeks of 70 degree temps before we reach 80 again, especially 80 with humidity. Most of us need time for our bodies to adjust.

  4. Paul D says:

    No rain for the next five days?!? Really? Hard to believe.

    • Paul D says:

      I like that “mainly dry” on today’s forecast. Now I can’t complain about just getting spritzed on 🙂

  5. High Desert Mat says:

    I saw pics of 2″ hail stones on the local news from Madras. One of the pics showed one of them next to a lime and was the same size. Lots of damage to cars and crops from what I’ve seen. I have the pics saved on my iPhone but for some reason it won’t let me upload them here.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls, OR) says:

      You can use tinypic or imgur and share the links here. I’d love to see more hail photos!

  6. It seems per the graph Mark showed with the ground to cloud strikes indicated that the majority of the action occurred with hill/mountain terrain and left the low elevations areas of the immediate pdx metro out of the weather action. The gorge is a slight exception but the action there most likely was caused by the cascades above the gorge.

  7. Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

    I don’t wanna jinx it, but the last few months of wx events seem to be playing off the 1992-1993 script. The various snow events and cold spells leading up to the mid Feb snow blast. But then the constantly wet and cool Spring that gave way to one of the biggest t-storm squalls to hit Portland in my lifetime on May 19 1993. If you haven’t watched King 5’s video of the wind driven rain blasting through Olympia then you need to. It reminded me very much of May 19 1993. Looks like the top wind gust was nearly the same with both events.

    • Paul D says:

      So if we’re having a repeat of 1992-1993, what’s next?

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Several more t-storm episodes. Most of which from cut off upper level lows. I wouldn’t count on too much hot weather episodes this Summer like the past couple of years 😉

  8. K. PacificNW says:

    Where is the best place to view people’s pictures and videos of the lightning storm last night? I live in Vancouver WA and I somehow slept through it and I’m bummed!

    I’m sure plenty of people took some vids. But I looked on YouTube and didn’t see anything yet. Any other popular spots I should check? Thank you!!

    • Ken in WoodVillage says:

      I made a video last night. I drove to Sandy, OR. It’s not the greatest video but it works. I posted a link on the comments here but it still waiting for approval.

  9. Roland Derksen says:

    We had a dome over us here as well. I saw a cloud with virga come overhead here around 7pm last evening. A heavy shower of rain & some hail mixed in resulted, but after that – nothing much. Heard some thunder in the distance before 8pm, that’s all. Today, we’re back to the usual: Cloudy skies, cool temperatures and showers.

    • I still remember the severe virga event of back in 77. Wow! Our children’s children will recount the stories. I wish those under the dome well and pray for their rapid recovery.

  10. cgavic says:

    Sandy, where I live, we dodged three thunderstorm cells. The first cell at 1p.m, 3 p.m., and 9 p.m. nice sunny day with humidity, could hear thunder in the distance, but all 3 storms went around Sandy. We did get some light rain at 9 p.m. we had a high of 87 Thursday, 53° currently. A 34° deg. drop in 12 hours.

  11. W7ENK says:

    The Dome.

    See, I don’t just make this stuff up!!

    No, in all seriousness, that storm that blew up just before midnight was impressive! Lightning flashes every 2-5 seconds for about 10 minutes straight, every 5-10 seconds for the 10 minutes before and after that, deep rolling thunder about every 30 seconds or so for a good 45 minutes, but unfortunately it all stayed way off to my East. Was hoping for something to roll overhead, but that was a no go. I was just a distant bystander to the whole thing. Regardless, it was a great show, made getting up for work this morning extra difficult.

    So, that being said, I’m glad I was (mostly) wrong with my forecast yesterday. The temperature really shot up quickly in the afternoon despite the growing cloud cover, and I didn’t account for storms to blow up over the Coast Range. I guess I’m just so used to getting screwed out of the good stuff it’s become second nature to me? lol

    But, this is just the beginning of what could end up being a long and exciting thunderstorm season… or let’s hope!!

  12. Daniel Ballard says:

    I live just north of Yamhill. I’ve lived around here for 30 years and I have never seen anything like the storm we had roll through here yesterday. Around 6 pm in started raining hard and the lightning was striking about every. 5-10 seconds. Then it seemed like a hurricane struck, I opened the front door to go outside on to the porch and almost got hit by a camp chair flying across the porch. Gotta go dig my barbecue out of the bushes now…

  13. JERAT416 says:

    Missed everything in the dome up on Bull MTN last night. Basically no rain at all not a sound of any thunder or flash from what I could tell. A little rain in Parkrose between 1:30-2:30 before I drove home. Doggone dome!

  14. muxpux (Longview) says:

    I tried to i tercept that storm that passed over the gorge, that was sever warned, up at Mt. St. Helens. What a show up there. Didn’t catch anything on film as far as lightning, but what an experience to look down at the lightning, and watch the storm blow through the toutle River Valley. Timelapse posted soon.

  15. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls, OR) says:

    Hail also as large as 2.00″ in NW Bend and Sisters a little while ago and 1.75″ inch hail in 3 locations; Madras, Terrabonne, and Union Creek. Tons of hail reports. And that Crater Lake storm was a real Supercell by Oregon standards on radar. It topped over 40,000 feet and I’d be surprised if it didn’t produce a tornado. Someone on FB had a screenshot of a skycam (unfortunately I can’t recover it, deleted post) it had a wall cloud. And it was mean looking.

  16. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I had seen the thunderstorms coming up on the 11 o’clock news so I decided to head out to the Sandy area. I was able to catch a lot of lightning. I was in my car because it was raining so hard plus I didn’t want to get hit my lightning!!!!

  17. flurball says:

    W7. l Love you guy but you went to a limb and it broke. Love the forecast and obs but it went beyond 80 degrees ( Milwaukie and others) are getting hammered. I will always appreciate you and Rob for your willingness to put your balls on the line,but please also admit when you missed it. You were down playing this early and then showing NWS alerts without saying they were not necessary.
    If I missed a retraction I am sorry

    • W7ENK says:

      Haha! I’m one step ahead of… myself? lol

      You’re right, I blew my forecast. However, the storms did all completely miss the main core of the Portland metro area. It was an awesome show in the distance off to my East, but I wouldn’t say that Milwaukie got “hammered.” Closest the thunder got to me was 11 seconds (2.2 miles). Not a total bust, but for a weather geek it’s just not quite close enough, ya know??

    • flurball says:

      I’m closer to 205 so had more at the east end of the dome than you probably did but the rain was tremendous. I thought we were out of it by about sunset when the skies basically cleared and just a few whispy cirrus around. Keep those forecasts and obs coming though. Always enjoy.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, it was definitely better off to my East. I think the bulk of it stayed behind Mt. Scott, which is why the thunder seemed so quiet from my vantage point, it was blocking the sound. We did get a burst of moderate rain for just a few minutes, but nothing too crazy, it only amounted to 0.06″ in the bucket overnight.

      Hey, thanks for the kudos, and I have no qualms with admitting when I’m wrong. 🙂

  18. Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

    Dumping here in Gresham and as Gene stated. Major thunder and lightning. Thought someone fired a cannon.

    Mark, as a side note. I saw some lightning around 6pm as I was driving down Glisan to the Fairview Lowe’s. Gave me a good view of the Cascades that is. Quite the show. But yeah kind of a bummer we missed a major event all day long. Still pretty cool though!

    • SR says:

      I work just up the hill from Lowe’s at the semiconductor plant and was coming in to work around 6. Neat flashes but all the lighting plays hell with all our equipment! It’s been an exciting mess tonight, too!


    • Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

      Heh. Glad you caught the view!

      My brother has always liked that company as an electrical engineering student. Ended up interning at Intel though since the program didn’t have you guys as an option. Hope all is going well now!


  19. Diana F. says:

    Wow I have never heard or seen thunder like we’ve had near the Columbia River starting 15 minutes ago. I thought there was a car wreck with about 10 cars, from the noise. The ENTIRE sky is lighting up in an incredibly impressive manner!! I’m on the balcony kicking back, enjoying the show. I’ve got court in the a.m. and need to go to bed……but can’t pass this up! Ooooooh here comes the rain and hail, yeehaw!

  20. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    Had a nice power surge as well! Rain is just starting to dump at my place.

  21. Gene says:

    Quite the thunder and lightning show out here in Gresham a little before midnight. Just experienced two of the loudest thunderclaps I’ve ever heard — I thought the house was coming down! And it’s pouring rain to boot. Oh, and first.

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