The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Dennis Hull
NOAA Warning Coordinator Meteorologist 

NWS offers its top weather stories

 


Members of the National Weather Service in Pendleton have voted on what they consider the area’s top weather-related stories of 2015. They include:

Drought: severe to extreme drought conditions gripped eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon during the 2014-15 Water Year. During the summer, no measurable rainfall was recorded at Kennewick and Moxee City in Washington and it was the driest summer on record at Pendleton and Pelton Dam Oregon and Dayton and Ellensburg Washington. Irrigation water was restricted which impacted agriculture. Stream flows were reduced which impacted water quality and water temperature and resulted in fish kills.

Multiple wildfires: from June through October, 14 fires, each over 1,000 acres, burned through parts of eastern Oregon and Washington. The Canyon Creek Complex and Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire each scorched over 100 thousand acres.

Hot summer: the June through August period was the hottest on record for these locations in Washington: Goldendale, Yakima, Walla Walla, Ellensburg, Kennewick, Moxee City, and Whitman Mission. For Oregon, it was the hottest summer on record at these sites: The Dalles, Hermiston, Bend, Dayville, Heppner, Moro, Prineville, Sisters, Long Creek, and Pelton Dam. In addition, Hermiston, Ellensburg, Bickleton, and Satus Pass set records for the all-time single day maximum temperature in late June.

November 17 wind and dust: a strong cold front brought widespread damaging winds across eastern Oregon and Washington. Wind speeds topped 115 mph at 3,500 feet elevation on uninhabited Rattlesnake Ridge, west of Richland. In the lowlands, peak wind gusts exceeded 60 mph and produced power outages, downed trees, building and sign damage, and tractor trailer roll-overs. The strong winds combined with dry soils to generate a dust storm. The reduced visibility caused a multi-vehicle accident near Stanfield, Ore., in which one person was killed.

December 21 wind and snow: strong jet stream winds combined with a deep low pressure area and cold front tracked across Oregon and southern Washington. Peak Wind speeds gusts were at least 65 mph at Goodnoe Hills, Helix, Kooskooskie, Athena, Hermiston, Pendleton, Madras. Heavy snow measuring at least 10 inches fell at LaPine, Cle Elum, and Ski Bluewood,

May flash flooding: a large low pressure system off of southern California pushed moist and unstable air north across the area for several days. The result was thunderstorms with heavy rainfall on May 21-22. Several areas across eastern Oregon recorded nearly an inch of rain in a 30-60 minutes time. Streets in Bend closed due to standing water, and parts of highway 97 were underwater in downtown Redmond. Two thunderstorms collided on the south end of Pilot Rock and dumped over 1.5 inches rain in less than 1 hour, producing flash flooding. In Washington, a debris flow was reported in western Yakima County, just east of Rimrock Dam. In North Selah, there was street flooding and some building evacuations.

Strong El Nino: as of the first of December, the El Nino was the warmest since 1997-98. This weather pattern reversal has contributed to increased storminess on the west coast and southern plains, abnormal warmth in the eastern states, decreased Atlantic hurricane activity, and increased drought and fire activity in Australia. The El Nino is expected to continue into the spring of 2016.

Central Oregon November snowfall: an upper level low pressure area moving across southern Oregon dumped heavy snow on central Oregon. Snowfall of at least 8 inches was measured at Redmond, Mitchell, Bend, Ashwood, LaPine, Sunriver, Sisters, Prineville Reservoir, and Madras.

Wet December: a barrage of Pacific storm systems unloaded frequent rain and snow across the area. By mid-December, most areas had received their normal precipitation amounts for all of December with additional storms into Christmas week. Part of highway 12 near White Pass was washed out which closed the road for nearly two weeks. Moderate flooding occurred on the Yakima River.

 

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