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Record rains in Portland and much of Washington

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass presented this map of the percentage of normal of precipitation in March. "Much of eastern Washington is amazing with totals of 200-300 percent of normal," he said.

This March was Portland's wettest month ever, with a record-breaking 7.73 inches of rain. And, records fell throughout most of Washington last month, as well, reports KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass writes on his blog: "Probably the most anomalous precipitation has been over eastern Washington, where a some locations have received their RECORD March precipitation.

"Take Spokane, where they established a new monthly record of 4.26 inches as of the 30th ... This record is particularly noteworthy since observations there go back to 1881! But wait, more March monthly record's were also broken throughout eastern Washington and Idaho, at locations such as Pullman, Cour D'Alene and many more."

In Portland

The record rain was a test of the city's billion-dollars worth of upgrades to the city’s sewer system. The upgrades were designed to prevent combined sewage and stormwater from spilling out the Willamette River during heavy rains. The last of the projects wrapped up in December.

Dean Marriott is the environmental services director for the City of Portland. He says the new system passed the test with no sewer overflows in March.

"So far so good. The river's muddy and it's carrying a lot of sediment, but it doesn't have any sewage in it, which is really good news. We had two storms in March that would've triggered a CSO event that was allowed by the feds and the state. And neither happened. I think because we did such a good job of designing the system and managing the system."

The city is legally allowed four overflows a year. But so far it has only had two this winter – both in December and within the legal limits.