Hot, dry spell increases wildfire danger
By Christian Wihtol
EUGENE, Ore. — Like it hot? Assuming this shapes out as a typical summer, you’ve got six weeks or so of bliss ahead of you. Like it cool? Hang on for another six weeks and relief will arrive.
For the time being, however, hot is in.
Oregon has begun a dry, hot spell that increases the wildfire danger in much of the state, and the risk of blazes igniting is heightened even further by expected lightning in Southeastern and Southern Oregon.
The hot weather, with some readings forecast to rise above 100, is expected to last through the week, The Associated Press reported.
In Eugene, expect highs in the mid- to upper 80s today, heading toward highs of 90 or more by the weekend, the National Weather Service predicts. The normal daily high for this time of July is 81.
On Tuesday, forecasters issued a red flag warning for critical fire weather conditions for the afternoon and evening on the eastern slopes of the central Cascades and areas around the cities of Bend, Madras, Redmond and Prineville.
Temperatures were expected in the 90s, and forecasters said lightning from scattered thunderstorms could spark wildfires.
Lightning is forecast through the weekend in a band of Southern Oregon stretching from west of the Cascade Range to Harney County in the eastern part of the state.
Lightning in parts of Southern and Southeastern Oregon also was possible today, with the potential for fast-spreading wildfires higher because there’s so much dry vegetation.
“As we get into the afternoon, the lightning strikes will become more frequent,” meteorologist Mike Petrucelli told the Mail Tribune in Medford. “It starts in Northern California a little bit earlier.”
Wildland firefighters at the state Department of Forestry have said they would mobilize additional resources and crews should fires break out.
In Eugene, normal July high temperatures at the National Weather Service recording station at the Eugene Airport start out at 78 at the first of the month, then gradually rise to 84 by the end of the month. For August, the normal highs persist at 84 through Aug. 11, then taper off, dropping to 81 by the end of the month.
The daily records are far above those numbers, however. For July, 19 days have record highs of 100 or higher. The record for the month is 106, set on July 28, 2009. For August, 15 days have record highs of 100 or higher. The record for the month is 108, set on Aug. 9, 1981.