Weather Blog

Oregon dust storm now blamed for 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington

Oregon dust storm now blamed for 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington
Photo of a dirty, milky substance that has fallen on cars outside the National Weather Service office in Spokane, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2015. (Photo courtesy: National Weather Service)


The mystery surrounding a white, milky rain that fell across Eastern Washington and parts of Oregon and Idaho Friday has a new theory, although I'd call it more of a tweak of the previous theory.

The event coated vehicles and windows in more than 15 cities, including Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and Hermiston, Oregon. Initial thoughts of the source originating as volcanic ash from a distant eruption or debris blown from summer wildfire-scarred terrain were quickly disproven.

Snoqualmie Pass has as much snow this winter season as Boston

Snoqualmie Pass has as much snow this winter season as Boston
Left: Bare spots show at part of Snoqualmie Pass. Right: Taylor LaBrecque digs her car out of a snow pile on Boston's Beacon Hill (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

One is a bustling ski resort; the other is a major metropolitan area that touches the Atlantic Ocean.

But this year, they're tied in the winter snow season department -- and neither spot is cheering about it.

Mystery of the 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington solved?

Mystery of the 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington solved?
Photo of a dirty, milky substance that has fallen on cars outside the National Weather Service office in Spokane, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2015. (Photo courtesy: National Weather Service)

Update: Further investigation by a Washington State University meteorologist shows the origin of the light-colored dust wasn't from a dust storm northern Nevada, but a dust storm from Oregon's Summer Lake -- also home to very light-colored sands.

Strange things were afoot in Eastern Washington and parts of eastern Oregon and the Idaho panhandle Friday when the day's rain showers left a bit of a milky residue on cars and whatnot.

Social media filled up with photos of the aftermath, with the National Weather Service in Spokane posting a photo of the rather cloudy rain they collected in the rain gauge at their office.

After a few days of sleuthing, meteorologist Greg Koch with the National Weather Service in Spokane has posted a blog on what they think is the likely cause of the strange-colored rain.

In short: Blame Nevada.

Ever wonder how Army Corps meteorologists deal with the dam weather?

Ever wonder how Army Corps meteorologists deal with the dam weather?
Ross Dam pictured during a heavy rain event on Oct 22, 2003. It shows the water spilling from Ross dam. The peak flood waters had been stored behind Ross dam on the upper Skagit, during the height of flood inflow. The water is being evacuated from the reservoir flood pool into the Skagit river, after the storm had passed. (Photo: USACE Seattle District)

We all know it rains a lot in Seattle, but what about when it pours? I mean, REALLY pours. This fall and winter has been one Pineapple Express warm storm after another and while we have managed to dodge a lot of major flooding this season, those whose job it is to protect us from flooding have been busy.

And that includes those at the Army Corps of Engineers -- among the unsung heroes of keeping people and property safe during intense rain storms as they are tasked with, among other things, regulating the amount of water coming through the dam-controlled river flood plains.

Mysterious "dirty rain" falling in Eastern Washington, Oregon

Mysterious "dirty rain" falling in Eastern Washington, Oregon
Photo of a dirty, milky substance that has fallen on cars outside the National Weather Service office in Spokane, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2015. (Photo courtesy: National Weather Service)

Update: The Spokane National Weather Service now has a pretty good theory on what caused the milky rain. Updated story here>>

While it's been a routine, rainy day in Seattle, those over in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon have had a strange phenomenon: A dirty, milky rain.

Several reports have come in from Spokane, Walla Walla, Pendleton -- and really across much of that region. The rain has left a dirty residue on cars and has flooded social media over there with people wondering what is causing the odd rain.

Researcher suggests Northwest in for very dry spring

Researcher suggests Northwest in for very dry spring
Photo: Archana Bhat

SEATTLE -- It's been the consistently warm temperatures that have been getting much of the attention in the weather department the past several months, but it looks like dry weather may be starting to fight for some headlines as well, at least according to one researcher.

Utah State graduate student Jason Phelps has been researching the correlations between weather patterns in the West and a slowly oscillating wind high up in the atmosphere that is part of the "Quasi-Biennial Oscillation" or QBO.

Photos: Blanket of fog makes for dramatic beauty around Seattle

Seattle has been showing off with its best Blue Friday performance of the season.

Looks like Mother Nature wanted to show off a bit as well.

A thin fog -- only a few hundred feet high, if that, settled in over Downtown Seattle Friday evening, making for some dramatic scenes around the Emerald City.

Seattle finishes up January as 5th warmest

Seattle finishes up January as 5th warmest
Photo: Shubha Tirumale Photography
Just because we flipped the calendar to 2015 doesn't mean that we've flipped the weather pattern. Oh no, January picked up right where December left off -- warmer than normal.

Groundhog wager proves you really can bet on everything in the Super Bowl

Groundhog wager proves you really can bet on everything in the Super Bowl
This Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 file photo shows Punxsutawney Phil after the Groundhog Club said Phil did not see his shadow and there will be an early spring. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Sports betting places really pull out all the stops for the Super Bowl -- allowing you not only to just bet on the big game but several different facets of the game.

Most are pretty routine stuff: Number of yards Russell Wilson will throw, who will score more points in the second half, etc.

Gig Harbor tornado rated an EF-1 by National Weather Service

Amidst all the chaos of the Seahawks amazing NFC Championship comeback, there was a tornado that touched down in Gig Harbor Sunday afternoon. I was actually quite surprised anyone noticed it since I figured everyone was glued to the TVs, but it turns out tornados are in fact something that can be louder than the 12th Man.

The tornado touched down around 2:18 p.m. about 4 miles West/Southwest of Gig Harbor, and lasted 4.1 miles -- pretty impressive for a Northwest tornado. It crossed the Gig Harbor waterway and finally dissipated around 2:30 p.m. shortly after making landfall again just past the Gig Harbor public boat launch.

New long range forecasts suggest two words: 'Sorry, skiers'

New long range forecasts suggest two words: 'Sorry, skiers'
Photo: Crooked Shadows Photography

The monthly 30- and 90- day long range forecast maps have come out this week and the story is like a broken record....broken record....broken record....

As in, the maps show greater-than-average chances of continued warmer and relatively drier than average conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Watch: The heavens show off during a cold winter's night in Washington

Watch: The heavens show off during a cold winter's night in Washington
Photo of the Issaquah light on the nighttime sky, courtesy Don Jensen.

Northwest photographer Don Jensen has found more beauty in the skies with his camera.

His latest project took him up to "Poo Poo Point" on Tiger Mountain on a cold, mostly clear night in late December to see what he could find from the spot that offers a sweeping view from Sea-Tac in the distance, to Issaquah below.

Weather mystery: A stinky fog envelops Seattle

Weather mystery: A stinky fog envelops Seattle »Play Video
Fog rolls into Seattle the evening of Jan. 6, 2015, courtesy Twitter user @aspseattle37

SEATTLE -- The fog that rolled in last night over Seattle was a sight to see...

But not a sight to smell, apparently.

NOAA to take big leap forward in weather forecast capabilities

NOAA to take big leap forward in weather forecast capabilities

The United States is about to take a big leap forward in its ability to forecast the weather. Word came Monday that NOAA will indeed be getting two new super computers that will greatly enhance the computing power of our forecasting models.

The way computer models work is that we take weather observations from around the globe from various sources -- such as weather instruments on the ground, ships at sea, weather balloons, satellites, pilot reports, etc. All that data then gets fed into the computer, and using what we know about how the planet and dynamics work, we apply incredibly complex mathematical equations to that data to try and figure out how the conditions right now will change over time.