Mother Nature jumped right in with the first big storm of the fall, with hundreds of lightning strikes and prodigious amounts of rain falling out of the system that swept through last night. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled through the night as the skies opened up. Longview had a 24-hour rain total of 1.64 inches, while Castle Rock registered 2.2 inches of rain in the past 24 hours. The Weather Service reports that more than a half-inch of rain fell between 7:30 and 11 pm at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso, followed by another four-tenths of an inch between 11 pm and 1:30 am. Some storm drains have been clogged or overwhelmed by the heavy rain, and there are spots of standing water on some roadways. A semi went off of I-5 near milepost 48 at about 4:15 am, but no serious damage or injuries were reported. Drivers will need to exercise some care as they make their way in this morning.
There have been some dramatic lightning strike incidents reported around the area. A man from Tenino survived a lightning strike yesterday morning as he rode a motorcycle on I-5 near Chehalis. The man says that he doesn’t remember exactly what happened, but the aftermath shows that the faceguard on his helmet was blown off, and the motorcycle wiring melted. The man is listed in satisfactory condition at a hospital in Seattle. It’s also reported that a Shelton-area man also survived a lightning strike. Practice for the Scappoose football team was also cut short yesterday afternoon, when a lightning bolt hit a tree near the field where the team was working out. No injuries were reported. It’s also reported that Clatskanie Middle-High School was hit by a lightning bolt, setting off seismic alarms at the school. No significant damage was reported, and classes are open as normal today.
Cowlitz PUD crews have been busy overnight, dealing with several power outages. The first one hit at 6:45 pm, when 61 customers along North 50th lost power, an outage traced to a faulty insulator. That was repaired by 11:40 pm. At 8:05 pm, a tree came down on Clark Creek Road, knocking power out to 91 customers in that area. Repairs on that took some time, with the power out until 4:05 am. At 8:45 pm, 92 customers at the end of Delameter Road were knocked off-line, with that outage running until 1 am. That was also traced to a bad insulator. The big outage took place at 4:18 this morning, when a BPA breaker feeding the Olson Road Substation opened up, taking 1,771 customers off the grid. It took only about a half-hour to get those repairs completed. PUD officials say that last night’s lightning and heavy weather was responsible for all of those outages.