PORTLAND, Ore. — A thunder and lightning storm passed through the Pacific Northwest Tuesday evening.
Oregon and Washington saw a combined 5,473 lightning strikes between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NWCC) said in a tweet. Oregon saw the vast majority of the lightning with 5,223 strikes — most of them in Central Oregon — while 250 strikes were reported in Washington.
The storm did not ignite any large fires, though it did start 92 small fires over a total of 123 acres mostly in Oregon. The NWCC said existing large fires gained 347 acres.
There were no major power outages reported in Oregon as a result of the lightning.
"These thunderstorms came with a lot rain, which is great. We need the rain, especially when it's going to put out fires. But there is still a danger because not every single fire that may have been started last night was extinguished by the rain or the hail," KGW chief meteorologist Matt Zaffino said Wednesday.
He said the smaller fires may be smoldering right now, but as it dries out over the next few days, the fires have the potential to spread.
In western Washington, storms knocked out power to thousands of people around the Puget Sound region and briefly impacted air travel on Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for incoming flights at Sea-Tac Airport for about 30 minutes. It was canceled around 10:15 a.m.
Aside from lightning, some areas of the Willamette Valley also experienced rain, wind and hail. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland issued a special weather statement for parts of Lane County, warning of 30 mph winds and hail up to the size of half an inch.
Matt Gontarek, a meteorologist at KGW news partner KEZI, posted photos on Twitter showing hail the size of a quarter in Eugene.
"That's very rare, severe-level hail," said Zaffino. "It takes updrafts of about 15 miles per hour to male quarter-size hail. Those were strong thunderstorms we had."
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