Fires From Space: Brown to Black

August 30, 2011

There are some much higher resolution satellite pictures available each day that you may not be aware of.  The Aqua and Terra satellites have been sending these images for maybe 8-10 years.  The drawback is that they are often several hours old and you only get one or two images each day.  But we can see quite a bit more detail than with the GOES satellites… such as the image below.  This is from the Terra satellite at midday yesterday.  Notice the Wishram fire is just getting going with lots of thin smoke stream up through the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.  You can click on the image for a better view of course.

Now look at this afternoon’s image:  Check out the 3,000+ acres burned in one day!  Quite impressive, it shows up well against the bright brown of the dry vegetation eastside.  Also notice the fire appears to be well under control with no smoke visible. 

Too bad we don’t have 15 minute imagery at this resolution; wouldn’t that be nice?

Luckily the firefighters working fires burning around Mt. Hood and on the Warm Springs Reservation will have cool temps and relatively high relative humidity to deal with.  Gusty west wind will continue though.

No changes in the forecast the next 7+ days.  A cool trough over us now moves east Thursday, followed by another one Friday which will be farther to the north.  So a slow warming Thursday and Friday.

Models show strong offshore flow late Friday night and all day Saturday, so we’ve made that the warmest day of the weekend.  850mb temps say we COULD get above 90 degrees, depending on the model.  They also all agree on unusually warm weather through the first week of September.

For the first time since January (7 months!), an upper level ridge is forecast to sit over the West Coast for at least several days.  The good news is that it’s happening in early September and not late July.  So instead of 60-65 degree nights it’ll be 50-55 degrees for most of us.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen