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Rainfall records fall as water rises

Early fall storms that pounded the Northwest this weekend have broken rainfall records in Troutdale and across the state, all the while downing trees, causing power outages and closing schools.

An estimated 8,000 households centered around Gresham, Damascus, Canby and rural parts of Multnomah and Clackamas counties were in the dark Monday, Sept. 30, as downpours and windy conditions continued to batter the region. By noon, power had been restored to 6,400 of them.

After delaying the start of school for two hours Monday morning, Pleasant Valley Elementary in Gresham opted to just stay closed due to a power outage.

A total of 110,000 Portland General Electric customers lost power over the stormy weekend.

On Sunday night, police blocked off Southeast Cheldelin Road between Foster Road and 190th Drive in Gresham for several hours after trees fell, taking down power lines.

The rains were the remnants of Typhoon Pabuk, which soaked Japan and Hong Kong. Another storm produced by Pabuk socked the region Sunday afternoon and evening and into Monday.

“In some cases more than 15 inches has fallen in just 72 hours alone near Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington,” said Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society. “Rainfall totals like this are simply staggering for the month of September in the Pacific Northwest, especially considering these are just under 72-hour totals.”

According to Pierce, Portland International Airport surpassed its wettest September on record with more than 5 inches as of noon Monday. The previous September record was 4.30 inches set in 1986. Records go back to 1940.

In downtown Portland, where records date back more than 140 years, rainfall totals neared 7 inches for the month — blowing the record of 5.52 inches set in 1927 quite literally out of the water.

Downtown Portland averages about 1.5 inches of rain in September.

Even more amazing, Pierce said, Astoria is measuring 10.5 inches of rain — and counting — nearing a foot of rain for the month and shattering the city’s old record of 8.66 inches set in 1906. More than 7 inches of Astoria’s total rain for the entire month of September has fallen since Friday. Records at Astoria date back to 1890.

In addition, daily rainfall records were set Saturday in Troutdale, where the airport measured 1.16 inches of rain, breaking the day’s prior record of .79 inch set in 1962. Hillsboro, McMinnville, Redmond, Salem and Vancouver, Wash., also broke their daily rain records.

Troutdale measured 2.38 inches of rain over a 72-hour period from about 10:50 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, to 10:50 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30, according to the National Weather Service.

As of Monday — the last day of the month — Troutdale was nearing its monthly rainfall record for September. By noon, 3.88 inches had fallen, which is just .35 inch shy of the record of 4.23 inches set in 1986, Pierce said.

Winds also gusted to near hurricane force along the Oregon coast over the weekend. Timberline Lodge saw a maximum wind gust of 79 mph.

High winds coupled with water-logged leaves broke tree branches, causing power outages. Leaves and other tree debris clogged storm drains and caused localized flooding.

Rain-saturated soil also is to blame for entire trees falling over, root-balls and all.

“Trees are susceptible to coming down with the combination of wind, saturated soils and still having their leaves attached, which adds more drag to the tree itself,” Pierce said.



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  • 22 Sep 2014

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