PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – What a difference a month makes when it comes to the wildfire season. The start of July was still reasonably quiet and the conditions not so hot and dry. We are now cranking through the last days of the month and the wildfire season is probably as active as it has been so far this year.
What is going on? We have seen an extended stretch of dry weather across the state. Early July was cool and the relative humidity was higher. There also wasn’t many thunderstorms for central and southern Oregon. Everything is starting to unfold as far as the weather, but wildland firefighters are doing a stellar job keeping everything together.
A Red Flag Warning is now in effect for many central and southern Oregon counties. That does include Baker County. We’re expecting dry and gusty conditions this evening with isolated thunderstorms producing lightning. Tuesday generated 284 lightning strikes in Oregon. A majority of those occurred in the NW 07 zone which is south around Klamath County.
It just takes one lightning strike to get things roaring, so it’s unsettling when we have a burst of days with dry lightning. Wednesday may even push some of that lightning north to some of the counties closer to areas like Madras.
Check out the forecast for the week below. Calling for a chance of lightning the rest of the week. Unfortunately, there may be a lot of dry lightning. That is because the air near the surface is dry and the rain or moisture that comes from the thunderstorms will evaporate before it reaches the surface, which means there really won’t be too much rain or moisture to help out. Also, some of the southern counties are going to see extremely dry conditions. Relative humidity dropping to the single digits with gusty moments. This may be a tough week for battling wildfires, so we want to limit that threat.
There are currently six large fires, the notable ones that are being tracked:
Anglin, Ben Young, Colockum, Green, Greenhouse, and Pine Creek (READ ABOUT THEM HERE)
Below is a map of the location of those wildfires. The Greenhouse wildfire in Washington is 5,000+ acres and currently 64% contained. The Ben Young wildfire down in southern Oregon was around 1,200+ acres and currently 90% contained.
The forecast for the 10-hour dead fuel moisture is much lower than earlier in the month. Locations east of the Cascades are reading around 5-6% with some patchy locations down to 3-4%. If the moisture content is too low, wildfires may become intense and erratic.