Rare ‘Milky Rain’ Most Likely Traveled From Ancient Lake in Oreg - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Rare ‘Milky Rain’ Most Likely Traveled From Ancient Lake in Oregon

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 PULLMAN, WA. - The mysterious "milky rain" that hit parts of the Pacific Northwest last Friday was the result of a rarely seen weather phenomenon that began near an ancient saline lake nearly 500 miles away and not a storm in Northern Nevada according to Washington State University meteorologist Nic Loyd. 

The National Weather Service received reports Friday afternoon of ashy debris coating vehicles and windows as a rainstorm moved into more than 15 cities, including Spokane and the Tri-Cities in Washington and Hermiston, Ore. While the ash-like substance has not yet been scientifically confirmed, it's believed to be from a dust storm clocking 60 mph winds that struck Summer Lake on Thursday night, according to the weather service.

Thanks to an exceptional parade of weather events, light-colored dust from Summer Lake's alkali beds appears to have traveled - distance-wise - the equivalent of an eight-hour car ride before landing, said Loyd. 

Originally, a large storm that hit northwest Nevada was blamed for the unusual-colored rainfall. 

"But the trajectory just didn't add up," said meteorologist Mary Wister of the weather service's Pendleton, Ore., office. "The wind direction would have carried the dust into western Montana, not in your direction."