Breaking the rainfall record with a bang!

Breaking the rainfall record with a bang! »Play Video
This is now the wettest month in Sea-Tac Airport's history, and Mother Nature celebrated with a brilliant light show.

A very strong thunderstorm rolled through the Puget Sound area Tuesday afternoon, bringing heavy rain, hail, and vivid lightning that fried trees and power poles, and struck a Mill Creek man just as he was getting out of his truck.

Our tower camera atop Columbia Center captured this brilliant multi-faceted lightning flash that appears to strike the Space Needle, the Washington Mutual tower, as well as several other buildings in the Downtown Seattle area. (View a larger version of the image)

One Mill Creek man is lucky to be alive after a surviving a brush with lightning. It happened just as he was arriving home. Al Fitz had just driven through the thunderstorm and was getting home after picking up his daughter. He never made it inside.

Lightning hit a tall evergreen next to his house and spiraled down the trunk. It left a 40-foot burn streak down the side of the tree.

The lightning then shot under ground just as Fitz hopped out of his truck. When the electricity reached him, he was thrown unconscious right out of his driveway.

"My daughter was still in the truck and I saw a flash and was thrown about 7 feet from the truck," Fitz said. "I woke up and saw my daughter still in the truck and got her out of there and ran over to my neighbors house."

Fitz was taken to the hospital by ambulance. A fire crew actually saw the lightning strike from several miles away before getting the 911 call from his neighbor.

Before leaving for the hospital, Fitz said he felt scared, shaky and still in shock. Fortunately, he is expected to make a full recovery.

We're also told that flash hit a transformer in the Magnolia area, setting the pole on fire. Debris from the transformer explosion broke a window in a building under construction. Two other windows nearby were also knocked out.

Lightning also hit several other power poles around the Seattle area, causing localized power outages.

The storm hit the Kitsap Peninsula first, then moved into the Seattle and Everett area. It was moving toward the east/northeast into northeastern King and southern Snohomish County. We had reports of lightning and hail in Port Orchard, and hail big enough to cover the ground in Edmonds.

Somehow, this particular storm mostly missed Sea-Tac Airport though, which got a little rain, but not enough to measure. So this particular storm didn't break our much-anticipated record for wettest month ever in Seattle since records have been kept at the airport. But following showers Tuesday night were enough to finally push us over the top.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Seattle was at 12.94" of rain for the month of November, breaking the all-time record of 12.92" set in January of 1953.

(It should be said that Seattle has recorded a month of 15.33" of rain in December 1933. That was back when records were kept at the Downtown Federal Building. The official reporting station was since moved to Sea-Tac Airport and observations are no longer kept at the federal building, so it's apples and oranges to link the two together.)

Unofficially, we've counted as many as 10 storms that have blown through the area, although defining, say, what counts as one storm and what might count as two storms or parts of the same storm, is somewhat arbitrary.

Nonetheless, Seattleites soldier on. It was nice to see that despite the seemingly never-ending rain, all but one person walking around the Seattle Center today still wasn't carrying an umbrella.

So far, it seems Seattle is going to be the only city that is a shoe-in to break its official all-time monthly record. (Tacoma might set an unofficial record. More on that below).

The way most of the storms have come ashore this month, the largest plumes of moisture have been focused from Seattle southward. Forks isn't too far above normal for the month and doesn't even rate in the Top 20 wettest months yet. Bellingham is also quite a ways away.

Here's what we have so far as of Wednesday morning for Seattle, and Tuesday evening for the other cities:

This month: 13.33" (1st place)
Record: 12.92" (January 1953)
(Also: 15.33" at Downtown Federal Building, December 1933)

This month: 16.32" (2nd place)
Record: 19.84" (January 1953)

This month: 16.17" (not even Top 20)
Record: 29.14 (November 1983)

This month: 6.89" (nowhere close to record)
Record: 11.60" (November 1990)

This month: 17.68" (5th place)
Record: 23.46" (January 2006)

For these cities below, we're not quite comparing apples to apples, because their current official measuring station either hasn't been around long enough to get a good historical context, or doesn't report their totals daily to know where they are this month.

So we'll compare their current observation with their nearest historical observation point. (In other words, these wouldn't be official records, but more of a "general idea" of how wet it's been)

This month (Tacoma Narrows Airport): 15.23"
Highest previous total found (Downtown, 1948-1981): 11.63" (January 2006)
Highest previous total at Narrows Airport (1999-2006): 12.36 (January 2006)

This month (Paine Field): 7.34"
Highest previous total found (Everett Jr. College) 9.77" (January 1971)
Highest previous total at Paine Field (1998-2006): 8.39" (November 1999)

This month (Shelton Airport): 23.15"
Highest previous total at city observation point (before 2000): 23.86 (missing one day of data; January 1953)
Highest previous total at Shelton Airport (since 1999): 23.49"

This month: 22.82" ** this is not including November 3rd. Unfortunately, Bremerton's data from that date is corrupted, and it was a really rainy day, so we're not sure how much rain they have this month. It's likely around 24".)
Highest previous total: 20.08" (January 1953)

Rain remains in the forecast through the end of the month. It'll be interesting to see where Seattle ends up. 14"? 15"? Do you think you know the answer? We're soliciting guesses as to what November will end up with for rain. See our contest at this link for details on how to enter.