August 23, 2022

A Lightning Vortex East of the Cascade Crest

 There was quite a lightning fest east of the Cascade crest today, with an impressive vortex of thunderstorms producing massive amounts of lightning.

The lightning flashes for the ten minutes ending 5:20 PM  tonight were amazing (see below, with clouds shown as well), with lightning circling around the vortex centered near Omak, WA.  Just wow....

The visible satellite image a few hours earlier shows the vortex and the numerous associated thunderstorms (each producing a blob of clouds).

These thunderstorms produced more than lighting, as illustrated by precipitation totals for today (Tuesday)...see below.  Some locations got over a half inch....a lot with a tenth of an inch or more.

The origin of this impressive vortex of clouds and lightning is an upper-level low.   Below is the map of 500-hPa heights (like pressures at 18,000 ft) around 5 PM (the winds are shown as well).  The low is centered near the WA/Canadian border, northwest of Spokane.

This low is not going anywhere fast.  Here is the forecast for 5 PM Wednesday.  A small shift to the southeast.

So you can expect a return of the thunderboomers on Wednesday!   To illustrate, below is the predicted clouds from the very high-resolution UW WRF model for 5 PM Wednesday.

Mama mia!  A lot of thunderstorms over the eastern quarter of Washington State!

Finally, tonight I was taking a long run with my dog around Magnuson Park in north Seattle and I saw a towering thunderstorm over the eastern slopes of the Cascades--some as high as 35,000 ft


  1. I live in Vancouver, I looked toward the east this afternoon and I also saw towering clouds, lots of them!!!

  2. Off topic, I noticed the warm blob is back should we be concerned about this winter snowpack?.

  3. Yep, as I say I was in one of them! I understand that the Hart's Pass Road was blocked by slides just after we left. An hour later and we'd have been stranded.

  4. Wow what a cool photo, Cliff, thanks for sharing! Amazing that our clear skies here give us a front row view to appreciate the scale of those thunderheads!

  5. There was a really impressive cloud structure south of Mt. Rainier this evening (8/24) around 7 PM. Looked like maybe a mini convergence zone causing a thunderstorm but I didn't get a picture. I'd be interested in getting your take.

  6. I live near republic and recieved 1.10" wednesday evening in a very short time span and another .30" this evening. Big rains and a massive amount of lightning in the area. End of August and my 80 acres Is very green still.


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