StormTracker 9 Forecast: Warm, breezy day brings increased wildfire danger

Our StormTracker 9 meteorologists are tracking an increased risk of wildfires on Thursday.

Posted: Apr 16, 2020 12:10 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2020 12:20 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Offshore, downslope winds off the Cascades are set to return on Thursday. This process warms and dries out the atmosphere while increasing stability and clearing skies. Temperatures this afternoon will rise into the low to middle 70s in the interior valleys and upper 60s at the coast. The normal high temperature for the date is 61 degrees in Eugene.

Fast Forecast:
Thursday: Sunny. Highs in low to middle 70s.
Friday: Sunny. Highs in low to middle 70s.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy. Highs in low to middle 60s.
Sunday: Patchy areas of fog, partly sunny. Highs in middle to upper 60s.
Monday: Patchy areas of fog, partly sunny. Slight chance of showers. Highs in middle to upper 60s.
Tuesday: Patchy areas of fog, partly sunny. Highs in middle to upper 60s.
Wednesday: Patchy areas of fog, mostly cloudy. Highs in low to middle 60s.

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Thursday afternoon will be breezy with winds out of the northeast gusting to 25 mph. Winds combined with lowering relative humidity to between 15% to 30%, and drought stressed vegetation, means fire danger will be elevated. If you have burn piles or are planning to burn, make sure you check in with your local burn agency and use common sense.

The newest drought index came out on Thursday, showing severe drought coverage in Western Oregon doubling in size, covering the Willamette Valley and the Umpqua Basin. Moderate drought has extended the length of the Coast and much of the southern Cascades. The northern Cascades are considered abnormally dry, thanks to the snowpack being near normal. Unfortunately, we are losing our snowpack at about half an inch or more per day.

The latest rainfall deficits for the rain year (Oct. 1) range from -11.98 inches in Roseburg to -25.31 inches in North Bend. The month of April alone is down -0.98 inches to -1.60 inches. It has been nine days in Eugene since we have seen measurable rainfall, and we will not see our next chance of rain until at least the middle of next week.

Wednesday on Twitter, Oregon State University Assistant Professor and Oregon State Climatologist Dr. Larry O’Neill compared our current drought situation to the 2000-01 and 2004-05 droughts, with exception of the snowpack being slightly better this year. Those years experienced heavy fire seasons: 2001 season saw 398,347 acres burned in Oregon, while the 2005 saw 1,871 fires burning 181,314 acres in Oregon.

As of right now, significant fire danger in Western Oregon is low. This means there is a low chance of a wildfire costing more than $25,000 to fight. That is expected to worsen heading into the summer with above normal significant fire potential starting in July through the end of summer for much of the Pacific Northwest, according the National Interagency Coordination Center. This is due to a general drier and warmer than normal pattern that's expected to continue into summer, according the NOAA Climate Predication Center.

For more information, visit the KEZI 9 News StormTracker 9 weather page.

Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 42°
47° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 47°
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 33°
North Bend
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 65°
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