wildfire season

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for western Washington and Oregon Wednesday and said the highs in Seattle on Thursday could hit 95 (35 Celsius) while Portland could reach 105 (40.5 Celsius).
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle’s above-normal temperatures have been tempered somewhat by a grimy layer of smoke from British Columbia’s wildfires that moved in Tuesday. The influx has made air quality in and around the Emerald City worse than Beijing’s.

Even as the air cools a bit over the weekend, the temperatures will stay far above normal, with the haze dissipating only somewhat and quite slowly, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Washington’s Department of natural resources responded to small wildfires in two of the state’s northernmost counties this week. But land managers don’t believe the blazes are harbingers of what’s to come just yet. 



Wildfire Season Blazes Into The Northwest

Jul 31, 2016

Several wildfires have broken out throughout Washington and Oregon this weekend after high heat, low humidity, and strong winds picked up.

Ben Brooks / Flickr

 

Forest fires have been popping up around Washington state since April. The most recent, near Gold Bar and Oso, both west of the Cascades.

 

AP Images

New tools and new strategies are needed to fight and prevent wildfires nationwide. That was the sentiment at a field hearing held in Seattle by the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The hearing  was convened by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington, a Democrat, and John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican. They are collecting testimony for the Wildland Fire Management Act of 2015.

NASA's Earth Observatory

A number of forest fires are continuing to burn in British Columbia.  As Craig McCulloch reports, the cost and smoke permeating the Vancouver area is getting attention.

The British Columbia Wildlife Service is reporting that 76 active fires larger than 25 acres (10 hectares) are currently burning across the province. There are many more smaller fires engulfing forests.

AP Images

The Washington Commissioner of Public Lands said warmer than usual weather has not only increased the wildfire risk, it also has increased the likelihood that firefighting resources across the west will be stretched thin come summer.

“We need to be more self sufficient ,” Commissioner Peter Goldmark said.

He said so many communities are struggling with drought that the state can’t count on outside help if wildfires strike.

“In the past, sometimes we’ve been able to rely on contract resources or other states," Goldmark said. "But because of the widespread nature of the drought, and the ensuing fire potential, we can no longer count on other states or adjacent states or other entities coming to help us.”

That’s why he is requesting an additional $4.5 million dollars to pay for emergency staffing and equipment. That’s on top of an unprecedented ask for $20-million for longer-term forest health work, thinning stands and making public forests more resistant to wildfire.

Goldmark says last year’s Carlton Complex Fire was the worst he has ever seen.  The current draught declarations combined with this year’s warmer than normal forecast for the summer is making him nervous.

Goldmark says he won't count on help from anyone this season. Last year, the deadly Carlton Complex required help from 40 states.  

Courtesy of Chelan County Emergency Management

Crews battling wildfires in eastern Washington and southeastern Oregon are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures of a heat wave.

Firefighters are gaining ground this weekend despite the wilting heat. Four of the five largest fires are nearly 100 percent contained.

Douglas Forest Protective Association

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

InciWeb

 

Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state. Oregon and Idaho have rolling starts to fire precaution rules, depending on local conditions.

Fire managers are looking ahead to a fairly "normal" wildfire season in Idaho and Washington this year. Drought-ridden central and southern Oregon though are classified at higher risk.