All hail broke loose

U-B file photo by Greg Lehman of a lightning storm in late March 2020.

A powerful, "unusual" storm is about to smack the Tri-Cities area and the western parts of the Walla Walla Valley.

A severe thunderstorm warning issued by the National Weather Service in Pendleton warned of the storm hitting Pendleton, Hermiston, Milton-Freewater and the Tri-Cities.

Weather service meterologist Mike Vescio said today the storm, which the public was notified of early this morning, is the type that rolls around every five to six years, if not less often.

The storm is currently moving through Central Oregon where it is producing 2-inch hail and 80 mph winds.

Tornadoes had initially been predicted, but Vescio said that's likely no longer a concern.

Vescio said the Tri-Cities area is likely right in the storm's path. It is expected to arrive on the Washington side of the border as it moves north around 5-7 p.m. and will last a bit into the evening.

"This is a very strong, upper-level low pressure system," Vescio said. "It's uncharacteristic and it's an unstable air mass."

Residents of Central Oregon, including Boardman and Hermiston, were advised to shelter indoors in the lowest point of a structure. Significant damage to cars and buildings is expected from the wind and hail in some areas.

Vescio said the storm will likely "glance" the Walla Walla Valley but could still cause some significant damage.

He said flooding was not a concern in Umatilla or Walla Walla counties. Wallowa County in Eastern Oregon had a flood warning.

Jedidiah Maynes can be reached at jedidiahmaynes@wwub.com or 509-526-8318.

Jedidiah Maynes is the managing editor of Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine. He also writes about business news in the Valley and covers a variety of others topics on occasion. He enjoys making music and puns.