McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

Haze & smoke continue


September 27, 2012

Lack of Rain, Low Humidity Fuels Wildfires

Smoke mapBy Dan Depodwin, Meteorologist for

While drenching thunderstorms soak parts of the East, dry weather out West continues to promote favorable conditions for wildfires.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 35 large uncontained fires raging in the U.S. with the bulk of the blazes found in the Northwest. Specifically, Idaho and Washington have been adversely affected by the fires.

A lack of rainfall over the past month (only trace amounts in Spokane, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore.) has led to dry vegetation. The dry ground, combined with dry lightning strikes ignited numerous fires throughout the region.

While most of these fires are large, the Mustang Complex fire in Idaho is one of the greatest in size, having burned nearly 340,000 acres of land. The blaze is still only 25% contained.

A stagnant weather pattern has caused more problems than just fire damage. Light winds, little rainfall and excessive smoke has allowed for air quality to become unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Until air quality improves, residents of smoky areas should take caution when exercising outdoors. Those people with asthma or other breathing problems should be especially careful.

While light winds can cause stagnant air, they aid in firefighting efforts. Looking at the next week or two, winds should remain rather light as high pressure remains stretched across the region.

In addition, dry lighting strikes are not expected over the coming days, further assisting firefighters. On the other hand, humidity levels are still quite low, enabling fires to spread at a quick pace due to the dry conditions.

Unfortunately for those seeking relief, the weather pattern is forecast to remain similar for the next week or two. There are some signs that a pattern change may take shape next week, which could lead to cooler and wetter conditions.

McKenzie River Reflections


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