Jeff Alworth

What a bizarre scene.  I was headed home right around 5 pm on my bike, proceeding across the Hawthorne Bridge from downtown Portland.  The storm was looming from the SE, and I was hauling keister to try to beat the rain.  When I hit the bridge, I was greeted by a massive dust cloud boiling down the river.  StormIt was like the descriptions I've read of desert dust storms--but there it was, skimming along the river.  Bikes leaned into the wind, hoping not to be pushed into the traffic lane. 

Apparently there were similarly otherworldly scenes across the state--Corvallis was deluged 90 minutes earlier.  I have lived in Portland 23 years, and I've never seen a dust storm like that.  This picture, taken by a KGW watcher, does a pretty good job of capturing what I saw.

What strange manifestations did you behold?

PHOTO CREDIT: KGW, user "Starkly"

  • (Show?)

    my brother is the tv writer for the KC Star, and he writes regularly about how at the slightest sign of a twisty bit of wind, the local tv stations go on Mega Storm Watch Alert, even if it means interupting the last 15 minutes of the finale of American Idol. we grew up in Montana, and he spent years in Chicago. wind is not weather. a quick t-storm is a blink. yea, that dust cloud was very cool and weird, but even Twitter is bleating away as if we had a 45-minute taste of Armeggedon.

    i did not, however, tempt fate by biking over the Ross Island Bridge (my normal commute). i carry bus passes just for such eventualities & let TriMet take me to 39th. by the time i left Safeway, it was just cool & breezy. a nice ride home from there.

    still, i hope no one got caught in the worst of it. but, damn, until you've driven thru a ground blizzard, you ain't seen weather.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    Nearly got whacked by a tree limb after I got off hwy26 eastbound heading toward PGE Park. Decided to meet up with a friend and have dinner at McCormick and Schmicks before driving on out home to East County---mostly because drivers were panicking and doing stupid shit. Seriously, people, when you've got wind and lightening and hail, you're safer in your car than abandoning it and running down the road.

    Didn't see much other than a few tree limbs down. No damage at home, either (across from MHCC). Mostly much ado about nothing...which describes the way most "weather" around here seems to be treated.

    But that dust storm looked cool...sorry I missed that.

  • (Show?)

    Well, I wouldn't have bombed across the bridge if I'd known what I was getting into. An hour earlier, I was walking across PSU's campus, and it was just slightly cloudy and boding no ill.

    Far out.

  • fbear (unverified)

    We threaded the needle down in L.O. A bit of a wind on the leading edge, then in calmed down, then a little bit of rain.

    We did have one thunder clap that rattled the house, though. That was exciting.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    What strange manifestations did you behold?

    Satan's face. No kidding, I saw Satan's face in a swirling cloud, with lightning bolts coming out of his mouth. When I finally got home I popped open a cold one to try to relax after THAT nightmare, and grabbed some chips and salsa. The VERY FIRST CHIP had an image of Jesus on it.

  • LT (unverified)

    Down here in Salem we had what looked like a Michigan thunderstorm--rain of downpour proportions, wind that blew some small things around, then thunder and lightning. When thunder comes immediately after lightning, you know the storm is right above you. I heard they are investigating whether one incident in Linn County was actually a tornado. We didn't lose power (lights just blinked) but turned off all the electronics just in case. A neighbor did lose power.

  • Lou (unverified)

    I saw a funnel cloud start to form while driving on I-5 in Woodburn about 4:30. It took the tops off some cottonwoods on the east side of the freeway and blew them across all four lanes. It created more excitement in ten seconds than the governor could muster in two years.

  • gnickmckibbin (unverified)

    Better start getting used to "freak" (for Oregon) dust storms and other indications of global warming consequences folks. Freak storms and heat waves and monster hurricanes may seem to be new to us but really we've had it remarkably calm and uniform in our weather cycle for the last few millenia. Global climate change is just an expression of a planetary system that is readjusting itself to move atmospheric heating from the equatorial latitudes to the polar latitudes more quickly and efficiently. The fact that human beings may be contributing to this process by continuing to devour our planet in whatevr ways possible doesn't matter. The system is overloaded and showing this in "freaky" ways. The fact that human beings are failing to recognize this process and how serious it is probably won't matter either; most of us, (like 99.999%) will get blown away. Most climatologists and other scientists like to find a reference point for confirming their CO2 measurements in the geohistorical record. At 390 parts per million (or thereabouts) of CO2 in our atmosphere presently, these references are few and far between and they mostly predate life on earth as we know it... Native Americans (in fact native people everywhere) have a belief that when you make decision that might affect your lifestyle you should consider that decision in the context of seven generations hence or how what you do now will affect your progeny 7 generations hence. Lets see - 7 generations (at a conservative 3 generations/century) is about 233 years. Thats back at the time of our continental congress, or the beginning of the industrial revolution...

  • netlog (unverified)

    thenk you

  • Darrell Fuller (unverified)

    Here in Keizer our street flooded above the sidewalks (leaves covered the drains in the street). Lost power for 12+ hours. Literal "sheets" of rain with wind and hail.

  • dan (unverified)

    I figured someone would blame this on global warming....

    thanks for injecting a bit of stupidity gnickmckibbin

  • Noelle (unverified)

    Typical thunderstorm stuff out in Outer SE. Massive hail, winds, sheeting rain and thunderclaps that were louder than I've heard in my life. We had branches down and I lost satellite connectivity, but no power loss.

  • gl (unverified)

    the dust was originating from the Ross Island Cement factory by the river just south of Ross Island bridge. large piles of agg material etc

  • Chris Andersen (unverified)

    Wasn't there a similar "freak" storm just a couple of weeks back? Several people lost power during it. I was sitting in my living room (Tigard) when I noticed it got dark real fast. Within seconds the wind picked up and trees across the way were bent easily at 45 degrees.

    Two of these in a matter of weeks when no one I know can ever recall storms like this in their life time.

  • (Show?)

    My "freak" was that nothing much happened. All the local news were proclaiming the apocalypse and I sat on my couch looking south, waiting for the pine trees to blow through the French window. The wind blew for a few minutes, the temperature dropped (yay!) and there was a fair amount of rumbling (nowhere near Midwest thunder). Oh, and one big flash of lightning. Pfft.

    Apparently I chose well when renting the place.

  • Assegai Up Jacksey (unverified)

    What seemed to have caused a lot of weird scenes was the outflow from the approaching storm. When those strong downdrafts hit the ground, they move horizontally, causing quick bursts of strong straight line winds. I saw it once in Houston, where most had thought it was a tornado.

    I was waiting for the Halsey in Gresham, watching the storm come in from the SE as the driver took an extra 30 minutes on his break in Troutdale. It was obviously something, seeing a 727 take off from PDX, it climbed massively, but just before crossing the storm front, did a 180 and went straight back to the airport.

    The bus came about 30 seconds before the wind, which was almost calm as I boarded. The next stop is about a block and a half. Not having noticed that the wind had switched on, we were confronted by the surreal sight of a young Asian woman, apparently being held by a redbud tree. The tree was about 10 feet tall, and the branches were moving around like something from the forest scene in the Wizard of Oz, and were wrapping around her in a way that really looked like it was grabbing her.

    Looking around it was interesting how the fact that the wind was moving parallel to the ground caused the trees to have an odd twisting motion as they blew around. I finally understood why people mistake straight line winds for tornadoes. It doesn't help that odds are, when you experience them, you can usually spot a funnel cloud somewhere around.

    As an aside, I was unable to get the info I wanted from the weather service. Does anyone know what the lift index was? I was bragging to a friend in Texas that I thought we had actually hit 7. Not much for them, but we can go two years without seeing that. It would have to be 9-11 for them to show the kind of reaction seen here, yesterday. And that wouldn't be news the day after, but then Texas isn't fit for human habitation. Disagree? Turn off the AC. If you have to destroy the environment to live somewhere, maybe you shouldn't colonize it.

  • Pokey Haunt Ass (unverified)

    Posted by: LT | Jun 4, 2009 10:38:25 PM

    Down here in Salem we had what looked like a Michigan thunderstorm

    I think folks with midwest experience saw it coming. I was saying yesterday morning, that it felt exactly like the way people describe the day before "the big one hit". Pick any major tornado outbreak you wish, and go to the interviews and you will inevitably read, "it had been hot and was supposed to cool off, but that day was really muggy, with an oppressive feel". When I went to work yesterday morning I said, "this is exactly what they are describing".

    Texas may have the most tornadoes because of all the real estate, but the midwest have to be tops for tornadoes by population density, at least on a state level. Taken by itself, OK City is unreal, statistically.

    I saw Satan's face in a swirling cloud, with lightning bolts coming out of his mouth. When I finally got home I popped open a cold one to try to relax after THAT nightmare, and grabbed some chips and salsa. The VERY FIRST CHIP had an image of Jesus on it.

    Yes, it hit at 4:20 here, too. And those images should tell you exactly who is Lord of what. Anti-xtian forces rule nature, but the xtians rule the light snack sector!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Surprised that Jeff didn't mention the best side-effect. Off to Steinbart's because it's brewin' weather agin! Maybe a Kolsch for the next time it gets hot...

    So, are any brewers Republicans? Biased, but I came across a bio on my gr-gr-grandfather, and it seems pretty much par for the course. Any Brewcrew Rush dittoheads?

    Mr Raupfer and his brother in law Anton Meyer run the Eagle Brewery in Columbia City...fully competing with the large breweries of the cities. It has a capacity of nine thousand barrels per annum in September 1859. Mr Raupfer is an ardent and unwavering Democrat, faithful to his party in defeat as well as success, and was eight years treasurer of the Democratic county committee.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    I figured someone would blame this on global warming....

    Well, that's why I mentioned the appearance of Satan. I was trying to head off any secular atheists so ethically compromised that they would look for an explanation reliant on science.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    I was waiting for the Halsey in Gresham, watching the storm come in from the SE as the driver took an extra 30 minutes on his break in Troutdale.

    This storm would never have occurred if we had just followed Jim Kaarlock's advice to get rid of buses and buy compact cars for everyone.

    Not having noticed that the wind had switched on, we were confronted by the surreal sight of a young Asian woman, apparently being held by a redbud tree. The tree was about 10 feet tall, and the branches were moving around like something from the forest scene in the Wizard of Oz

    I saw the same thing in my neighborhood shortly after Satan's appearance in the clouds. Oh, right, and after I smoked a huge doobie.

  • riverat (unverified)

    At my place in Salem (near Liberty & Skyline) there didn't appear to have been any wind, nothing blown around in the backyard. Down at work on the east side of the airport the wind was strong and it rained so hard water was coming in the front door because it couldn't flow away fast enough on the (nearly) level sidewalk. At one point we saw the windsocks on either end of the airport pointing in opposite directions, symptomatic of microburst as mentioned by AUJ above. The NWS estimated the wind speed at the Salem airport to be 60 MPH from the microburst. A microburst is the opposite of a tornado because the wind is coming straight down then out from the center whereas in a tornado the wind is inward and up.

    On the global warming angle you can't say any particular weather event is caused by it. What happens is that in a 10 year period instead of getting 40 thunderstorms you get 50 or they may average 5% stronger than before. So you could arbitrarily pick 10 storms and say they were caused by global warming or you could say that 20% of each storm was caused by it but since climate is scientifically defined by the statistical compilation of weather you can't say any one weather event is caused by it.*

    • Numbers were totally made up for the sake of example.
  • (Show?)

    darn, I thought this might be a vid for a new song or something from Ms. Large. :(

  • (Show?)

    Yesterday marked my 20th anniversary in Oregon, but not having forgotten my time in Kansas, I paid a bit of attention to Thursday's weather as I worked just across the Multnomah-Clackamas line on 82nd. In the Midwest, the calm before a squall line is palpable - zero wind, green skies, and the wildlife goes silent. While the warning signs of silence (not happenin' on SE 82nd) and the green sky were absent, the dead calm while being able to observe the approach of the black clouds from the south was significant.

    ...and one of the sales guys popped out of the office and announced that the storm must be big because the Oprah was getting pre-empted. (!!)

    I mis-estimated that I had about 20 minutes before the rain or hail hit, and just as I was preparing my touch-up paint, the winds hit. SLAM. Zero to 40mph with no pleasant introductory gusts. Touch up bottles, brushes and rags flew off the gate. It took about 30 seconds to gather, toss and secure and I was outta there, headed north to my shop in order to put the rigs and myself inside away from any hail.

    SE 82nd also was enveloped in the dust storm, and while that particular arterial is rather void of greenery, several medium sized limbs fell - apparently from the sky - and perplexed southbound drivers. The errant foliage there slowed traffic, but from what I saw, caused no wrecks.

    It turned out that we got only a bit of heavy rain out in my area - the west end of Lents. But I did have to go back south to try and retrieve my favorite brush.

    I found it. All was well.

connect with blueoregon