WENATCHEE — An intense but fast-moving storm hit the region with gusty winds and dumped heavy rain this afternoon.
The storm knocked down trees in the Omak and Okanogan areas, ignited wildfires in northern Okanogan County, and briefly closed Highway 97 due to downed power lines.
Wind also tore part of a roof off a small building at the Omak High School, said Tim Engh, Omak School Maintenance Supervisor. “It looked like a twister,” Engh said.
No significant damage or flooding has been reported in Chelan County. But there have been reports of rocks on Highway 97A north of Entiat, and the playground at Rocky Reach Dam was closed because of fallen tree branches.
The National Weather Service reported that up to 0.35 inches of rain fell in 10 minutes over No. 1 Canyon and No. 2 Canyon in Wenatchee, where last summer’s wildfires burned away much of the vegetation. A similar amount of rain was recorded north of Entiat over areas burned by last summer’s Byrd Fire.
“It dumped a lot of rain, but it moved through really fast,” said Katherine Rowden, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Spokane.
Rowden said the agency received reports from volunteer weather spotters of rocks and water on Highway 97A between Entiat and Chelan. A RiverCom dispatcher said someone had reported rocks on the highway near Knapps Tunnel.
Rowden said they also heard that heavy runoff was lifting manhole covers in Cashmere.
Wind gusts of 35mph to 40 mph were recorded. The wind brought down tree limbs in the park at Rocky Reach Dam. A picnic shelter and the playground there are closed for cleanup until Friday, though the Visitor Center remained open, PUD officials said.
The wind gusted up to 45 mph in the Okanogan Valley, where officials are still assessing the damage, said Okanogan County Emergency Manager Scott Miller.
“The most serious impact was in the city of Omak,” he said. Many residents and businesses were still without power at 3:30 p.m.
Engh said the torn metal roofling led to a leaky roof at Omak Hgih School. Several trees also came down across the district.
Fire crews from the state Department of Natural Resources were called to a few fires spoarked by lightning, Miller said.
He said heavy rain left standing water on roads, but he wasn’t aware of any flooding.
By 2:20 p.m., the agency was reporting that the storm’s intensity was dissipating as it moved from Okanogan County into Ferry and Stevens counties.