Rare Northwest Storms Drop Inches Of Hail On The Portland-Vancouver Metro Area And Salem

After forecasting in the Willamette area for 15 years, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen pictures like these where the hail is inches deep.

It started with lightning and thunder and then the hail just dumped from the sky.

And when each of three different storms was done dumping on the I-5 corridor it looked like it had snowed.

These pictures are from Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Tigard, Oregon plus Vancouver, Washington.

What Creates A Hailstorm
To create hail like this, you need freezing air in the skies above and you need ‘updrafts’. These are invisible air currents rising up into the sky–helping hold the hail in the cloud and taking it on a wild ride up there, which helps the hail get bigger and creates more of it inside the cloud, little by little.

When the balance of things change and the hail is now more than those ‘updrafts’ can hold in the sky….watch out below! Hail will dump until the storm has dumped it all. If the storm is strong enough it will do the whole thing over again. I watched that happen on Live Doppler.

Official Hail Depths For April 6, 2011

  • Salem, Oregon – 2″
  • Lake Oswego, Oregon – 2″
  • Milwaukie, Oregon – 2″
  • Orchards, Washington – 2″
  • Vancouver, Washington (I-205 @SR500) – 2″
  • Camas, Washington – 1″

 I wish I could have been under one of these storms myself. But covering them live was what we’ll call a close second!


  1. James Drescher says

    The last few days all the news channels constantly talked about whether or not the rain record for March would be broken. Now that it has, hardly anyone talks about it. What was the actual total rainfall for March? What are some of the varying amounts around the outlying areas? I heard one amount of 7.75 inches but Saturday night just after 10 P,M. the amount was shown at 7.79 inches.Not that it really matters, but when a topic is covered on a reular basis, then I kind of expect somewhat of a follow up. Thanks for understanding as we watch you regularly.

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