Wildfire update: Lightning and intense wind to start the week


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – With another week of the wildfire season under our belt, we again have new wildfires and a troublesome forecast to worry about. Over the last week we’ve had more than 7,000 acres of new fire territory in Oregon and over 2,000 acres of land from new fires in Washington.

The week is going to start off with a lot of lightning and gusty conditions due to thunderstorms that are going to impact a majority of the state east of the Cascades Monday afternoon. There were more 400 lightning strikes on Sunday, which lead to a burst of wildfires over the last 24 hours. It is possible that we have a similar showing on Monday with a chance for some additional storms Tuesday and Wednesday.

Check out the wildfire weekly outlook graphic below. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NWCC) has a preparedness level of 3 this week, which is an increase from level 2. This is because of the lightning threat and the ability for rapid fire spread. What does this mean? It means they are preparing for a workload of five to nine active large fires and/or equivalent all-risk incidents. (You can find the chart of what the preparedness level 3 fully entails at the bottom of the article.)

Each day will bring its own problem as far as the weather goes. Monday will be the most active and Friday will be the day that we may have conditions for improvements. The middle section of the week will be something in between with some dry moments and sections that are more breezy than others. According to the NWCC, there are currently four new large fires, three in Oregon and one in Washington.

I want to show you what is going on aloft, which is involving the wildfire smoke around the region. Currently a rather strong area of high pressure is circulating the smoke from the wildfires. Check out the tweet from the National Weather Service out of Boise from Monday morning. This smoke is rotating across the states in a clockwise motion.

What does this mean from Portland? Well, we are currently on the fringe of the wildfire smoke that will be transporting northeast from areas of northern California. It is likely that our air quality will have some issues across the state and that we have more chances for smoke as the next few days play out.

I want to show you the real estate involved with the Mosier Creek Fire that started late last week. Below is a photograph of the now-around 1,000-acre wildfire that is likely not going to be contained until the end of the month. You can read more about the destruction of this wildfire in this article here.

A map of the Mosier Creek Fire — dark red is burning, light red is evacuation zone, August 14, 2020 (KOIN)

Saturday brought a quick moving wildfire to neighborhoods on the north side of Bend, Oregon. Below is an aerial photo of the “Juniper Ridge” wildfire on Saturday. It’s not uncommon that we have small fires like this during the wildfire season, but they still possess the ability to spread quickly if it wasn’t for our wildland firefighters out there doing an amazing job at handling these wildfires.

An aerial photo of the Juniper Ridge fire north of Bend. August 15, 2020 (Central Oregon Fire Info/John Wood on Bravo-73)

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