Elevated fire danger Tuesday with strong wind and dry conditions


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – We are not in the traditional fire season yet in the Pacific Northwest, but the weather conditions Tuesday will be acting up and causing concern.

The fire weather danger is increasing around the region because of the gusty conditions, warmer temperatures and low humidity. The fire weather danger scale is pushing the orange to red color Tuesday, with the highest threat for areas over towards Pendleton. This is an issue in the valley as well because the wind will be coming through swiftly, supporting fire spread.

Right now, you should hold off on all backyard burning around the region. There will be less wind in the coming days, but conditions will still be dry. You should have options in the near future, but this week doesn’t look great. The Clackamas Fire District put out this tweet today about no backyard burning for that time period.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) puts out fire potential index (FPI) maps, which you can cycle through for the forecast today in the slideshow below. There are some potential spots around the region that are at higher risk. The FPI is a more in-depth forecast that will factor in additional factors outside of just the weather conditions. You can read about it in the quote below.

The Fire Potential Index (FPI) is a moisture-based vegetation flammability indicator. It is a function of current living vegetation greenness as a proportion of maximum greenness. It is also a function of current 10-h dead fuel moisture as a proportion of the moisture of extinction.


We can also look to the Forest Service for fire danger information, which this map may be a little more intuitive. Notice that much of the Greater Portland Metro Area is under a moderate danger class, with many in central Oregon in the high to very high category. If you match it with the map above, you can see similarities in location and danger.

Now, you may be thinking, we’ve had a rather lucrative snow season through the mountains! This is true, we’ve had a lot of snow for the Cascades, especially in Washington, which will help us out with keeping most fuels moist and it offers us water when the time comes.

However, we still have drought conditions across the state. Some in central and southern Oregon in the D3 and D4 categories, which is as bad as it gets. We need more spring showers, but we aren’t getting any rain this week and surely not enough to combat this problem.

Will it carry over to the summer? Yes, I believe this is going to be an issue in the summer as our rainy season has been lackluster and time is ticking. It also takes a certain path of moisture to reach the locations that need it most.

I want to get back to the wind real quick, as it will be snapping offshore today. This will warm us up and keep us warm through the day. The wind gust forecast is depicting wind topping off in the 30 mph range across the region. It’s possible that it will be even stronger coming into the Cascades and out. Ski resorts at the high elevations will be dealing with very gusty wind that will make operation tough. You will want to check in with those resorts if you were thinking about heading there this afternoon for a quick run.

With that gusty wind east of the Cascades and the open terrain, there may be some blowing dust today in the eastern Gorge. This may extend over to areas of I-84 for travel difficulties. Visibility will become an issue while driving or working in the zone below. Areas of blowing dust possible to Pendleton and extending to The Dalles. The wind will be running out of the northeast around 20 to 30 mph with gusts to the 40 and 45 mph range!

The wind will settle down a bit more on Wednesday, which should eliminate the blowing dust concerns. The warm and dry weather will stick around into the weekend, with temperatures even increasing as the week continues.

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