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It never rains at Autzen, but take a poncho.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

For rain-tested Oregonians, this weekend's expected downpours will be like water off a duck's back - or, in the case of Autzen Stadium come Saturday night, like water off the Ducks' backs.

A potent and unseasonably early fall storm is expected to dump heavy rains throughout northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, and while the brunt will be to the north of Lane County, the National Weather Service is predicting that 2 to 4 inches will fall in Eugene today through Sunday evening.

The expected arrival time for the heaviest deluge? Why, sometime Saturday night, of course.

That's strategically important news for University of Oregon football fans, who will pour into Autzen Stadium for the Ducks' Pac-12 conference opener against the California Bears. Kickoff for the televised contest is 7:30 p.m., and it's expected that the game may not end until sometime after 11 p.m.

"I would say you're probably going to see rain during that time period," said Jeremiah Pyle, a weather service meteorologist in Portland. "But the heavier rain may not set up until after midnight."

But Pyle also cautioned that "the exact timing is difficult to pinpoint. ... We know that you guys (in Eugene) will be the last to see it."

Want a second opinion? Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society, is less optimistic.

Pierce said his forecast modeling suggests that the heaviest rains could fall any time after dark on Saturday, "up and down the I-5 corridor, including Eugene."

"The model I'm looking at, it's showing Saturday night to be a washout," he said. "Anyone who doesn't prepare for rain, well, they're more of a Duck fan than I am."

Even before this weekend, Eugene has seen 3.19 inches of rainfall this month through Thursday - more than three times the norm of 1.01 inches for that deep into September. The monthlong rainfall norm is 1.29 inches.

The rainfall record for all of September for Eugene, set in 1927, is 5.21 inches - and that's in jeopardy.

"I'd say you're definitely in danger of breaking that," Pyle said. "I'll go out on a limb and say that you will set that record."

Notwithstanding this month's precipitation, however, the Eugene-Springfield area is lagging far behind in total rainfall for both the calendar year and for the so-called rain year, which starts each Oct. 1.

Only 13.11 inches of rain have fallen in Eugene thus far in 2013, compared with the normal year-to-date total of 27.07 inches through Thursday.

From Oct. 1, 2012, through Thursday, meanwhile, precipitation has totaled just 32.45 inches, well below the average for the period of 45.76 inches, according to the weather service.

Pyle said rainstorms of the intensity predicted for this weekend are unusual for this time of year.

"This is the kind of storm we normally see in November or December," said Pyle, who added that a colleague who has worked in the Portland weather service office since 1990 said he can't recall such a storm so early in the fall.

Between now and Sunday evening, the storm could drop 3 to 7 inches along the Oregon Coast, more than 7 inches in pockets of the Oregon Coast Range and perhaps even 8 to 10 inches in areas of the Cascade Range in southern Washington, Pyle said.

There are two separate fronts at play coming in from the Pacific Ocean, Pyle said. A weaker front is expected to reach landfall this afternoon or evening, while the bigger frontal system is the one that's expected to arrive Saturday.

That second system is particularly moist because it is up against a Western Pacific typhoon, and moisture from that typhoon is getting pulled along into the system, Pyle said.

"It's basically an atmospheric river," Pyle said. "It's providing a lot more moisture than we'd expect to see at this time of year."

Pyle said river flooding is unlikely because river levels are not yet very high so early in the season.

But some flooding of small streams or creeks, or ponding of water on city streets, is possible, he said.

On other queries even more pertinent to some Oregonians, Pyle deferred.

"Unfortunately, we're not allowed to answer questions like that," Pyle said when quizzed as to whether the expected rains would be more likely to benefit the Ducks or the Bears.

Does that mean no forecast for a final score? "Oh, I would get in big trouble for that one."

1.29

Inches of rainfallin a normal September

3.19

Rainfall this month, through Thursday

5.21

Rainfall in September 1927, the Eugene recordfor this month
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Title Annotation:Weather; The heaviest dump of the latest storm is expected to fall sometime Saturday night
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Sep 27, 2013
Words:779
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