Overnight rainfall totals almost reach monthly average for September

The official first 24 hours of autumn were a not-so-friendly reminder that the 80-degree days we grew accustom to this summer soon will become few and far between.

The storm that blew through the region Tuesday and into Wednesday broke rainfall records at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and dumped enough rain in a 24-hour period to almost meet the average monthly total for all of September.

At the Tacoma Narrows Airport near Gig Harbor, 1.55 inches of rain fell in the 24-hour period from Tuesday to Wednesday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Josh Smith said.

Amounts were similar just south of downtown Tacoma where 1.59 inches was recorded over the same period. Olympia received 1.13 inches.

Average monthly rainfall for September is 1.79 inches, according to Weather Service data for Sea-Tac Airport, Smith said.

“We had a good portion of the normal (rainfall) total for the whole month in less than 24 hours,” he added.

Record rainfall was recorded Tuesday at the airport after 0.72 inches fell. That beat the previous record of 0.71 inches.

The forecast is for less rain the rest of the week. Showers were expected Thursday (Sept. 25) and Friday but not as heavy as Tuesday and Wednesday.

Temperatures will stay in the upper 60s and low 70s and it should be partly sunny by Saturday and Sunday, Smith said.

Unlike last fall, the heavy rains overnight Tuesday didn’t bring the flash flooding that Tacoma saw in some areas a year ago.

But there still were some minor problems.

A sinkhole formed at South 23rd Street and Jefferson Avenue, said Mike Slevin, the city’s environmental services director. There also was localized flooding in areas where leaves had gathered in catch basins.

Overall, Slevin said, the city had no major issues to deal with.

“To be honest, the rain wasn’t really that bad,” he said Wednesday. “It’s the first rain of the year and the ground is dry so a lot of (the water was) soaked up.”

The rain significantly increased Wednesday’s commute times for drivers on Interstate 5.

The state Department of Transportation reported the commute from Federal Way to Seattle averaged 70 minutes for most of the morning and early afternoon.

That was one of the shorter drive times in the region. The worst was for drivers heading from Everett into Seattle, who saw a commute of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

It’s “been a long time since we had commute times” as long as they were Wednesday morning, Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill said.

Troopers responded to 20 collisions between Pierce and Thurston counties during the morning commute, Gill said. In most cases, the wrecks were the result of people driving too fast for conditions and spinning out on slick roads, he said.

“Two simple things to remember when roads are wet: reduce your speed and increase your following distance,” Gill said.

Gill also noted, with the rainy season upon us, drivers need to remember safe driving habits — including putting down cellphones even when traffic is stopped or slow moving.