High Temps Across The Northwest Could Break Records, Add To Wildfire Concern
Weather predictions across the West are calling for excessive heat and more dry weather this week. That forecast is anything but good news in the Northwest, where significant risk of wildfire continues to increase.
Forecasted temperatures could break records in Washington, Oregon and Idaho this week, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Bryce Williams. He said Spokane could see a high of 104 on Thursday.
“The last time we broke 100 (in Spokane) was in June of 2015,” said Williams. “So, it’s been several years since we’ve even reached the triple digits. And our hottest day of the year was about a week or so ago and we reached 97.”
According to the Weather Service, Oregon may also see the hottest days of the year this week. Forecasts are calling for temperatures in excess of 100 degrees from Portland to Pendleton.
— NWS Spokane (@NWSSpokane) August 6, 2018
And the longer-term forecast also isn’t good on the wildfire front.
Cooler temperatures are expected this weekend, with a low-pressure system moving in, but that could also bring high winds and thunderstorms, with potential to spread fire rapidly.
Demand for firefighters is growing with big fires burning in a dozen western states. There were nearly 20 new fire starts in Northwest states since Monday.
There are currently more than 27,000 firefighters committed to wildfires nationally. More than a third of them are on fires in Oregon and Washington, with help from hundreds of Air and Army National Guard members.
Guy Gifford is a Fire Prevention Coordinator with Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.
“We have at least in eastern Washington, four fire bosses,” Gifford said, referring to a type of plane used for water drops. “That doesn’t include the resources over in Coeur D’Alene (Idaho) – we share resources across the state line. We have several heavy air tankers, one of them being the very large air tanker, DC-10,” he said.
Gifford said the Washington DNR also has access to a helicopter fleet, and contracted bulldozers are on standby.
“The norm now is working our fire crews six days a week, because of the high fire danger,” he added.
Some firefighters might even be working longer stretches. Gifford said fire managers are on the lookout for cumulative fatigue that can inhibit decision making. Firefighters will get at least one day off every two weeks. Gifford said it’s imperative that they get enough sleep, water and food.
The damage caused by wildfires can be devastating, gutting structures and driving out people who live and work nearby. And researchers say the smoke from the annually recurring blazes also delivers economic damage to areas that were never touched by the flames. Continue Reading Study: Economic Effects Of Wildfire Smoke Linger Long After Flames Subside
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster relief requests for nine eastern Washington counties and two Native tribes impacted by summer wildfires. That includes aid for the Whitman County towns of Malden and Pine City, which burned during a Labor Day wildfire that was fanned by high winds. Continue Reading President Biden Approves Federal Aid For Eastern Washington Fires Following Months Of Requests
Washington’s U.S. senators say they’ve asked President Joe Biden to approve a major disaster declaration for eastern Washington towns that were burned by wildfires last fall. Those include the Whitman County town of Malden, which lost about 80% of its homes. Continue Reading Lawmakers Ask President Biden To Act On Washington Wildfire Relief After Trump Refused