They Have Added More Into The Mix

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Buckskin Wildfire
Buckskin Fire Approaching Wave | Photo by inciweb.nwcg.gov

In my article that published June 1st Now They Are Using The “D. Word I explained that more of the state of Oregon is now under drought declaration. At that time there were 12 counties under the Governor’s drought declaration. The number of counties under drought declaration has now risen to 20. That’s 20 counties out of 36 in the whole state.

Counties With Drought Declaration | Image by
Oregon Drought Rating By County-June 2015  | Image by Oregon Water Resources Department

 

 

Compare this map to the previous one I showed you and you can easily see how widespread this drought is and Summer has just begun.

Oregon Drought Rating
Oregon Drought Rating By County May 2015| Image by Oregon Water Resources Department

Our current heat wave hasn’t helped our already very dry conditions. Temperatures in the 90s to 100 degrees F have increased drying and helped to produce conditions suitable for the formation of thunderstorms. In this case mainly dry thunderstorms. What’s a dry thunderstorm you might ask? The National Weather Service defines a dry thunderstorm as “generally a high-based thunderstorm when lightning is observed, but little or no precipitation reaches the ground. Most of the rain produced by the thunderstorm evaporates into relatively dry air beneath the storm cell. May also be referred to as  “dry lightning.”

The National Weather Service issued Heat Advisories, an Excessive Heat Watch, a Red Flag Warning, an Excessive Heat Warning, and Red Flag Warnings showing just how dangerous this hot weather can be. Eugene set high temperature records two days in a row Friday June 26th and Saturday June 27th with 98 degrees F. both days.

Just how dry is it? Let’s take a look at some data from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Portland. For the month of June up to and including June 28th The Eugene Airport has received a total of 0.23 inches of rain while 1.45 inches is normal for the same time period. That is 1.22 inches below normal. That shows one very dry month, but that doesn’t add up to a full-blown drought. We have to go back in time a bit to see how serous the deficit really is.

We’ll look all the way back to January of this year. January 2.38 inches = -4.49 inches, February 4.16 inches = -1.27 inches, March 3.18 inches = -1.81 inches, April 1.47 inches = -1.86 inches, May 0.94 inches = -1.80 inches, and we add in the numbers for June shown above as 0.23 inches which is -1.22 inches for the month. We add them all together and we get a total of 12.36 inches which is 12.45 inches below the normal amount of 24.81 inches. That gives us a total for the calendar year so far just barely over half of the precipitation that we should have. There is another number that I have mentioned before and that is the rain year. That begins October 1st and continues through September 30th. The rain year total for Eugene from October 1st 2014 up to now is 29.41 inches which is 14.20 inches below the normal of 43.61 inches.Those numbers aren’t very positive either.

Buckskin Wildfire
Buckskin Fire Approaching Wave | Photo by inciweb.nwcg.gov

What does all of this mean? Well, it means we are very dry and as long as we keep getting temperatures into the 90s to 100 without any significant rain it will get even drier. That presents an even more serious problem and that is what could be one of the worst wildfire seasons we have seen in a long time. Current wildfires on Oregon Department of Forestry land include The Sugarloaf fire near Dayville, the Buck Creek fire near Hampton, and the Bear Creek fire near Bear Creek Butte. Fires on other lands include the Buckskin fire near Cave Junction and the Bunker Hill fire near Oakridge.

On Friday June 26th a passing freight train sparked a 30-acre grassland fire along Front Street in industrial Northwest Portland.Portland Fire and Rescue say passing trains cause a fire at least once a year in Portland.

And don ‘t forget the practically non-existent mountain snowpack that should have helped fill up reservoirs. Some parts of the state may be in for serious water shortages.

With this being the week of the July 4th Holiday weekend we really need to be very careful with any fireworks. The biggest fear I have is that someone sending up illegal bottle rockets, etc. will have the burning debris falling on dry grass, trees, or even the roofs of houses. Please be careful out there.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

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