Wildfire update: Dry and breezy conditions return


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – This week is going to be more than just a taste of summer, the weather conditions are going to bring some concerns for our wildfires and even the potential for new wildfires.

We know that this type of weather pattern will bring dry, warm, and breezy conditions for the Cascades and the foothills. Below is the fire perimeters for our major wildfires and some of the smaller scale wildfires nearby. The largest cluster is still the mighty three wildfires slicing through Clackamas, Marion, and nearby counties.

We know how much destruction that these fires brought to our communities, which is why we want to make sure that any sort of shift in our forecast is loud and clear and that is why we want to make sure everyone is notified about our wind shift for our Monday.

Even when the wind slows down, we will still have a dry setting in place. Morning Meteorologist Kelley Bayern pulled a staggering quote from the Oregon Department of Forestry, which you can read in the tweet below:

What exactly can we expect with the wind? By the time we hit the afternoon, it is mostly going to be blowing out of the east for Portland. It is that east wind that will dry us out quickly and also warm us up. That wind will carry south down the Willamette Valley and also impact areas near those wildfires, which is a concern because gusty conditions may lead to erratic or unruly moments.

However, this isn’t going to be 12 hours of 50+ mph wind and aggressive conditions like we had on Labor Day. Here is the good news, the rain from last week allowed for wildland firefighters to really prepare for this week.

With the wind, there is no doubt that the fire weather danger risk is going to increase. That means, we aren’t just concerned about our current wildfires but it should be stated that we need to be careful with any flames this week. Although we do not have any current wind or fire weather alerts, they are in place for southern Oregon and most of California.

What does this mean for the wildfire smoke? Will we have another smoky week? Well, there is going to be an increase in wildfire smoke this week; however, it’s not expected to be like what we saw when this whole event broke after the Labor Day windstorm. A majority of the smoke is going to come from California as the high pressure transitioned to the east and the wind shifts aloft to the south. That will transport the smoke from the fires to the south right up to the Oregon coast and to areas around Portland. This will likely be more of a hazy sky, which we are more accustomed to when it comes to wildfire smoke.

However, weather models do not do a great job on projecting the smoke from our local wildfires that we were discussing above. That smoke may impact the lower levels a bit more. I would be prepared for a hazy sky with moments of lower smoke for communities close to the fires like Scotts Mills or Silverton.

This is another view of the smoke moving in from the south by Wednesday. It will mostly impact those west of the Cascades, but I expect it to shift east by Thursday. That means you folks in The Dalles or Pendleton, will start to notice the smoke in the second half of the week. Again, I want to stress that this will not be nearly as bad as before. The air quality should not take a major hit from this smoke.

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