Widespread thunderstorms in the region resulted in reports of downed power lines and tree limbs, as well as hail and strong gusts of wind Wednesday.
The storms also included a light show, with the National Weather Service in Spokane reporting an excess of 40 lightning strikes a minute in some areas.
The system of storms resulted in the weather service issuing a severe thunderstorm watch for the first time since May of 2017.
“We issue severe thunderstorm warnings for small storms every year, but this was, as far as a larger outbreak of an area, the first time we issued a watch (in more than two years), which is odd for us to issue,” said Mark Turner, a spokesman for the weather service. “It was a large-scale outbreak of these storms across several states.”
At the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, gusts of as high as 46 mph were reported, while a weather station near Waha recorded 55 mph gusts of wind.
The gusty conditions were severe enough to cause damage to trees and power lines, Turner said. Scattered power outages were reported throughout the region, according to Avista’s online outage map.
The weather service received a report of a tree that blew over in Culdesac and power lines that went down in Lapwai. Dime-sized hail was reported near Pomeroy and Moscow as well.
Within a three-and-a-half-hour time frame, the temperature in Lewiston dropped from 80 degrees to 60 degrees.
“That’s what happens when the upper atmosphere falls out of a cloud and ends up in the valley there,” Turner said.
More storms were forecast into Wednesday evening, with a slight chance of showers and pop-up thunderstorms this afternoon, but “the big show,” according to Turner, ended around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Lewiston area.
The forecast for the weekend will bring drier conditions with expected highs in the 80s.
“We will be in a drying pattern for the weekend, so the weekend should be pretty nice,” Turner said.
Tomtas may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.