Motorcyclist struck by lightning on I-5 in Washington state

SEATTLE -- A motorcyclist was struck by lightning early Thursday morning as thunderstorms rolled through Western Washington.

The 60-year-old man was riding on I-5 near 13th Street in Chehalis when he was hit by a lightning bolt, troopers said. The car following behind called troopers to report the man had taken a direct hit from a lightning strike but was insulated by the motorcycle's tires.

Meanwhile, the rider was able to drive to a nearby gas station, where he was soon met by medics. He was then taken to Providence-Centralia Hospital with some burns and hearing loss but seemed otherwise OK, Chehalis fire officials said.

The Chehalis storm was one of many that moved through the region as the sun rose Thursday -- an opening salvo in what promised to be a very stormy day across the region.

After a brief late morning into midday break, showers and thunderstorms are expected to increase in number and intensity as the day progresses -- especially into the afternoon and evening hours -- as a big area of low pressure moves through the Pacific Northwest and pumps a whole lot of moisture into a very unstable atmosphere. Seattle already tallied 0.25" of rain with the morning storms nearly breaking the daily rainfall record of 0.36" with hours to spare.

In Ocean Shores, storms briefly knocked out power to 1,500 people when a tree branch hit a power line.

Each thunderstorm the rest of the day has potential to bring rainfall at the rate of about an inch per hour -- about on par with the drenching storms we saw last Thursday. The storms have prompted a rare summertime Flood Watch for all counties in Western Washington and is in effect from noon Thursday through Friday afternoon.

This is a pretty unique storm system for our region in that it is expected to combine a period of strong thunderstorms at first, then more of a steady Seattle November-esque rain second. When all is said and done, rainfall totals are expected to be as much as 1-2 inches across the Puget Sound area, with higher amounts up to 3" in the foothills and up to 4" in the Cascades.

This is enough rain that urban and small stream flooding is possible -- especially in areas where strong thunderstorms drop a big deluge in a short period. Mud and or rock slides are also possible in steep mountain terrain.

The National Weather Service does say that while mountain rivers will run high, traditional autumn-type river flooding is unlikely.

The rainfall will decrease in intensity as you head west, to where the coast might, ironically, be among the drier spots in the region.

The weather rapidly improves in the storm's wake with just a few lingering showers early Saturday morning giving way to increasing sunshine and warmth with highs getting into the upper 70s.

By Sunday, we begin a new stretch of more summer-like weather with plenty of sunshine and highs near 80. That sunny and warm pattern is expected to last into early next week.