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Rain, dark clouds move in, thunderstorms expected in Washington

Signs of a stormy day rolled in Wednesday morning, potentially bringing heavy rain to Western Washington and thunderstorms to Eastern Washington where lightning could spark new wildfires and flash floods could sweep debris down freshly burned hills.

The weather service says an inch-and-a-half of rain could fall in Western Washington breaking records for July 23. The record for that date in Seattle is .54 inches set in 1949.

Meteorologist Johnny Berg said Seattle won’t get as much rain as the mountains – up to 2 inches – but likely closer to half an inch. The record for July 23 in Seattle is .54 inches set in 1949.

“In July, the monthly normal is .70 inches (at Sea-Tac),” said Berg.

The coast could see one inch of rain.

It’s also possible Seattleites will hear some thunder, and Berg said if you do, be safe and head indoors.

If forecasters are completely wrong and we only get a trace of rain on Wednesday, Sea-Tac Airport would have tied for driest July along with 2013, 1960, and 1958.

Firefighters and local authorities are heartened by weather forecasts that call for continued cooler temperatures and higher humidity as they battle a destructive wildfire that has charred hundreds of square miles in Washington state and is the largest in state history.

They just hope that the “lightning watch” also forecast this week doesn’t ignite new fires.

Thunderstorms forecast for Eastern Washington could bring heavy rain to the east slopes of the Cascades. And storms across northeast Washington could produce damaging winds and large hail.

Forecasters expect dry weather will return by the weekend with highs in the 80s in Western Washington and 90s in Eastern Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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