Tuesday night’s storm filled ditches and streams as well as a few roads, schools and other buildings throughout the Mid-Columbia, dumping as much as 1.5 inches of rain in some areas.
Stiff winds and cold accompanied the rain, the result of a low-pressure system moving in from the south and parking on the region.
“It’s not a big thunderstorm, it’s just rain that has spun up and lingered,” said meteorologist Douglas Weber with the National Weather Service in Pendleton.
While it might provide some short-term drought relief, the rain did more to cause headaches, causing flooded basements, leaking roofs and worse.
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“Mud, water, everything,” said Sue Ashby of her shop, Sixth Street Art & Gift Gallery in Prosser. “There wasn’t an inch that wasn’t covered in water.”
And the rain isn’t exactly a blessing for all farmers, either.
“It’s not good if a guy has hay on the ground,” said Drex Gauntt, who farms near Wallula.
The rain will degrade hay that’s been recently cut and not yet baled, as it leaches out nutrients, Gauntt said. He finished baling about a week ago, but other growers in the region may not have been as fortunate.
More than an inch of rain fell in parts of the Tri-Cities overnight, based on spotter reports to the National Weather Service. Even more fell in the western part of Benton County, with the lower Yakima Valley receiving as much as 1.5 inches in places.
No reports of flash flooding are known, Weber said, but the hours of steady precipitation overnight were enough to soak the region. The National Weather Service did have a flooding advisory in place for parts of Yakima and Benton counties but it was lifted by the end of day Wednesday.
Building restoration companies such as SERVPRO of the Tri-Cities and North West Restoration in Richland were busy with calls for service early Wednesday.
“We are slammed today,” said Brooklyn Emblem of SERVPRO. “We’ve got a waiting list. I had my first call at 4:45 a.m.”
Ashby received a call from a neighboring downtown Prosser business owner around 6:30 a.m. and was told there was flooding in the building where her gallery is housed.
“My store was literally flooded from the street to the back,” she said, noting that the street drain in front of the business and another behind the building had clogged and failed to drain.
It’s the second time such flooding has occurred in recent years, she added. A call to Prosser’s city hall was not returned.
Damages to the store are being assessed, but many antiques, linens and refurbished furniture pieces were soaked, Ashby said. Neighboring business The Print Guys offered her some space to store items and students from Prosser High School helped to move things between the storefronts.
She’ll likely be closed for at least two weeks and other businesses were also affected, she said.
“It was severe. but we’re going to get through this,” she said.
Pasco’s McLoughlin Middle School had eight classrooms flooded, district spokeswoman Leslee Caul said. Damage appeared minimal and about half those rooms could be ready for students today.
There were several roof leaks at Kennewick High School but they did not disrupt classes, district spokeswoman Robyn Chastain said.
Kennewick road crews closed intersections Wednesday morning at 36th Place and Ridgeline Drive, and Hood Avenue and Center Parkway because of high water in the roadways.
In West Richland, city crews placed traffic cones on Keene Road and South Highlands Boulevard to alert drivers about standing water on the roadway.
While the rainfall totals for the region are high, most communities are still as much as 2 inches or more below their usual precipitation levels for the year, Weber said.
The storm also may have been welcome relief for some water users. The rain and cool temperatures have dramatically cut water demand in the Columbia Irrigation District, said executive director Joel Teely, but it hasn’t helped build up the water supply nor is it a substitute for the lack of snow in the mountains.
“Rain on the ground now doesn’t help dry ground in July,” Gauntt said.