WENATCHEE — The slow-moving, moisture-packed thunderstorm that deluged the region Saturday evening just missed setting an official rainfall record.
The National Weather Service’s official gauge at Pangborn Memorial Airport shows 0.28 inches fell — mostly between 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday — just short of the .29-inch record set Aug. 10, 2013.
Unofficial tallies across the region tell a more dramatic tale, which explains the uptick in 911 calls about mud and debris slides.
A backyard weather station in south Wenatchee reported 2.54 inches of rain Saturday, said NWS meteorologist Tom Dang. “That’s pretty significant. With amounts like that, you don’t even need burn scars to create flooding. Most of the other rain gauges were showing generally about a half to three-quarters of an inch. They’re still healthy totals.”
The National Weather Service had issued a series of alerts leading up to the arrival of the storms, which also came with lightning and thunder.
“The potential was there. We knew it was a very wet weather system coming in Friday and Saturday,” he said. “By nature, it’s hit and miss. If it moved right over the wrong locations, there could be debris flows.”
It shows what a difference of just a few miles can make, he said, explaining the lack of “record” rainfall at the airport Saturday. “It was close, though,” he said.
He notes the airport did set a record for rainfall on Friday, with the first wave of storms that dropped 0.22 inches.
The 0.3 inches measured Saturday at the Entiat Fish Hatchery also set a record.
The automated rain gauges a few miles east of Waterville recorded 1.61 inches of rain Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m.
“That’s the highest number that I’m seeing on the rain gauge map,” Dang said.
As for lightning strikes, information from the National Lightning Data Network for Saturday evening shows 127 lightning strikes in Chelan County and 387 strikes in Douglas County.
The weather drama is calming down for the next few days. The forecast for the Wenatchee area is for sunny skies and highs in the upper 80s this week.
“There doesn’t appear to be a significant heat wave coming. The next chance for precipitation is maybe this weekend,” he said.