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Soggy Northwest Breaks October Rainfall Records

sea turtle
Flickr -
File photo. More than a dozen Northwest cities have seen record rainfall during the month of October.

The Pacific Northwest is certainly known for its rain, but the amount of rain that has fallen in October is one for the record books in more than a dozen Northwest cities -- and counting.

There are still a few days days left in the month, but October is already the wettest on record in cities across Washington such as Seattle, Olympia, Colville, Pullman and Ephrata. Same for Kellogg and Priest River in northern Idaho. In Western Oregon, several airport weather stations such as Corvallis and Portland are on the verge of monthly rainfall records.

"A couple of the storms had some moisture entrained from former tropical systems,” Seattle-based National Weather Service meteorologist Ni Cushmeer said. “It's quite moist out there in the Eastern Pacific. So once these storms tap into that, they basically dump."

It's so wet, Cushmeer said she had to clean the office's rain gauge with bleach because moss was starting to grow in it.

The forecaster doesn't blame climate change for one month of record rain. She said the rain totals fall within the range of natural variability.

The weather forecast for most places in the Northwest contains a chance of rain every day through Halloween. The outlook for November offers no relief. The NWS Climate Prediction Center gives a strong probability for above normal precipitation with temperatures in the normal range over the coming month for Washington, most of Oregon and the northern half of Idaho.


National Weather Service Spokane
(Totals as of 9:30 a.m. Thursday; previous record in parentheses)

  • PRIEST RIVER, IDAHO: 8.41" (8.31”, 1947)
  • KELLOGG, IDAHO: 7.33" (7.23”, 1950)
  • BOUNDARY DAM, WASHINGTON: 7.06” (3.97”, 1968)
  • COLVILLE, WASHINGTON 5.14" (4.81”, 1947)
  • ROSALIA, WASHINGTON 4.91" (4.42”, 1951)
  • PULLMAN, WASHINGTON 4.45" (4.29”, 1950)
  • REPUBLIC, WASHINGTON 4.34" (4.27”, 1950)
  • CHIEF JOSEPH DAM, WASHINGTON 3.53" (2.04”, 1956)
  • GRAND COULEE DAM, WASHINGTON 3.49" (2.95”, 1947)
  • WINTHROP, WASHINGTON 3.48" (3.13”, 2003)
  • EPHRATA, WASHINGTON 2.20" (1.92”, 1950)

National Weather Service Seattle(as of noon, Thursday)

  • OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON 10.80" (10.72”, 2003)
  • SEATTLE NWS OFFICE 9.04" (6.98”, 2003)

(as of noon, Thursday)

  • SEATAC AIRPORT 8.91" (8.96”, 2003)
  • HOQUIAM, WASHINGTON 14.36" (14.68”, 1956)
  • PORTLAND AIRPORT 7.84" (8.41”, 1994)

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.