Fires From Space: Brown to Black

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 


49 Responses to Fires From Space: Brown to Black

  1. bgb41 says:

    It took a few days, but the cool air finally has worked its way into
    Hells Canyon at Pittsburg Landing. It was a chilly 83 there today with a
    strong breeze.

    Here is a chart showing the last 12 days of August there

    Date Hi–Lo
    8-20 100-61
    8-21 106-63
    8-22 106-65
    8-23 101-66
    8-24 106-65
    8-25 104-74
    8-26 107-68
    8-27 107-70
    8-28 106-70
    8-29 99-69
    8-30 95-65
    8-31 83-63

  2. bgmike says:

    Just came back from camping did I miss anything?

  3. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

    I’ll repeat this once again, the day there is no NWS is the day that a single tornado will kill 100,000 people. Fox news don’t get it! I guess by discounting NWS, thats their way of slowly taking over the world. Very sneaky, Fox……

  4. Just a handful this time. Mark is using one tonight at 10…but I don’t think I got any worthy of replacing my lighthouse shot.

  5. bgb41 says:


    *Only 2 of the first 19 days of August had a mean temperature above normal
    *We had 9 days in a row of above normal high temperatures from the 20th-28th
    *We finished the month off with 12 consecutive above normal low temperatures.
    *The first 90 degree day of the year on the 20th is the 2nd latest date ever in a summer season.
    *Also on the 20th, the 96 degree high was a record high temperature for the date. (old record was 95 in 1986)
    *Record high minimum was set (despite rain falling) on the 23rd of 65 degrees (old record 63 in 1942)
    *We had 16/31 days where the high temperature was above normal
    *We had 17/31 mornings where the low temperature was above normal.
    *Lowest temperature for the month was just 55 degrees on the 1st.
    *Rainfall for the month was just 26% of normal with only 2 days measurable on the 22nd & 23rd
    *Mean temperature was 69.9 degrees for the month, (+0.3 degrees) above normal
    *August 2011 ended the streak of 6 months in a row with below normal temperatures (February —>>> July)

    Here is the monthly summary with color coding….

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      I thought you folks there had a 90+ high before August 20th? I thought wrong then. Wow it must have tough for ya all this summer…

  6. Major power outages in the Gresham area 97030. My Brother reported a very intense surge, then the power went out followed by loud crackling noises. All of neighbors ran outside to see what was going on. According to PGE 2,500+ without power. Cause: Wildfire. Location: Appears to be near Kelly and Burnside, but can’t be 100% sure.

  7. Yevpolo1990 says:

    Oh my god, I am so glad that this pattern change is going to be happening, I AM TIRED OF 100’s here!!!! Looks like this weekend we will be in the low 90’s here in Lawton and mid 60’s during the night!!!! ITS A DREAM COME TRUE!

    Take all the heat you want guys,.no really feel free.

    • runrain says:

      Gotta say, Yev, 90 deg heat is so much easier to take when there is a snowcapped mountain 90 minutes east, refreshing ocean spray 90 minutes west, and green everywhere in between!

      Going to miss you up at Crown Point this winter, though. Good times!

    • Yevpolo1990 says:

      AMS meeting is coming up in a month and a half or so and I will be there, hopefully I’ll see you there.
      Ugh its just getting really old having it be 110 degrees with 20mph winds from the south, it is like a blow drier!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I think most folks out here would enjoy sending summer off in a SCORCHING SEA OF FLAMES! (I know I would) Then we can direct our attention to the incoming GRANDIOSE LOWS of fall. Hahaah!

    • Yevpolo1990 says:


  8. Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

    Nice flip-flop of the heat for the east and west coasts. It was bound to happen eventually.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      NWS is gun-shy about forecasting a BLOW-TORCH next week, but they are testing the water.

      National Weather Service Portland or
      245 PM PDT Wednesday Aug 31 2011

      By Wednesday trends have been to build
      the upper ridge over the interior Pacific northwest. If this trend
      holds…it potentially brings some of the warmest weather of the
      Summer by midweek…but for now will be a little more conservative with temperatures as models have also shown a trend lately towards building strong ridges late in the forecast period…then backing off with time.

  9. Jbpdx says:

    Boy after all that beautiful Portland summer weather, back to the same-old depressing gloom. Looks like August ends up with more days at average or above, just barely. First month since January. Looking forward to the sunny and warm being predicted for September. The only thing predictable about weather these days is unpredictability.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      I look at the gloom as a buffer inbetween warm periods so that you dont get tired of the sun. Already up here at 4,200 feet ive gotten pretty sick of the sun. It just doesnt go away! Get what i mean? Portland is nice in regards to weather that is very evened out, not too much of anything.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      Not sure if this year was the case because I havent been over there for almost a year, but typically speaking it is evened out over there.

  10. bgb41 says:

    ‎12Z GFS… not as hot as 00Z but we do get 10 days in a row above 80.

  11. Cgavic @ 1,100 ft says:

    We’ve got rain this morning…ugh!!

  12. I wonder if 12z GFS/EURO continue the theme or not? …. 6z GFS isn’t nearly as prolific with the heat, but it IS the 6z. There is a reason why the more accurate EURO model only runs 12z/00z. 6z/18z GFS are worthless unless they are inside 48 hours.

    We’ll find out real shortly. It does kind of look like the 12z NAM shows similar 500Mb evolution and the Gulf of Alaska trough/NW flow is much closer this weekend. A big ridge still looks to develop once the final trough passes through B.C. …I like how you can watch things develop in real-time as you can already see the huge ridge on WV Loop regardless of what the models show.

    Can see the offshore ridge centered near 45 N, 155 W
    Question is how far east does it shift…

  13. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Hahaah! I certainly agree with Cliff Mass on this one…dumb is a understatement, brain-dead is closer to the truth. “the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness”.

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      Fox news really hasn’t figured out where The Weather Channel gets their info from?? 😆 Without the NWS there wouldn’t be any more Weather Channel.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Right Mike. We’ve seen this before…amazing.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      The day the NWS disappears is the day a tornado kills 100,000 people in a Missouri town. They need to tighten their loose screws for once. They don’t realise how reliable the NWS can be. April 17th tornado outbreak would have been titled a “surprise” without NWS.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      April 27th…… oooops wheres the edit button 🙂

    • Karl Bonner says:

      Yeah Mr. Murray, let’s have a completely private and unregulated weather services industry, because as we all know free markets are always right and government intervention is always wrong. One of the reasons it’s impossible to discuss anything political or economic anymore without starting up a food fight is because of the quacks who work at places like the Competitive Enterprise Institute or the CATO Institute or American Enterprise or any of these overfunded “think tanks” designed to put out propaganda favorable to deep-pocketed business interests. They’re dividing the nation with their ugly agenda of deception.

  14. pappoose in scappoose says:

    You must not be reading my posts Mark! I posted a link to those satellites two days ago. Hahaah!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Right Mark. Sure would be nice if we could get images from those every 15 minutes!

      As Mark said these update just once each day, as far as I know. The Terra is first, around 1:30PM yesterday, Aqua was about 5:30PM.

  15. Karl Bonner says:

    I just saw something very unusual here:

    Go forward to the 180 hr image. Notice the ribbon-shaped 20C isotherm over the PNW? If I’m interpreting this correctly, it means that it’s warmer to the west and east of the intersection but cooler to the north and south. In other words, a “saddle point” that happens to be *exactly* at 20C!

    I remember studying saddle points in multivariable calculus. The important thing to remember is that a saddle point is first and foremost a single point, and the dependent variable (in this case temperature) has one definite value at that point. But Mother Nature doesn’t think in multiples of 10 degrees Celsius; it’s pure coincidence that in this case it’s exactly at 20C.

    Sorry about the triple post, I promise that it’s all done now.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Hmm that is interesting. Don’t worry about all the posts….

    • Garron says:

      Thanks Karl, I am too intrigued by your calculus conundrum! Maybe mother nature is better at math than we think? I am going back to school on this one, get back to us when you have figured out the intersection.

  16. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    00z GEM has a similar patten evolution, but appears hasn’t quite caught up to the EURO/GFS…. Some highlights stand out.

    FCST HR 144 – 512dm center near the northern Aleutians with a 958mb surface low.

    FCST HR 192 – 593dm heights all the way up to southern B.C. and a ULL off the northern California Coast. Record heat if verified.

  17. Karl Bonner says:

    Mark, how warm is “unusually warm”? (Oops, I posted in the wrong spot!)

    I agree about the extreme fire danger. As much fun as this late heat wave can be, the fire threat makes it rather spooky.

    I wonder how long such a death ridge might be able to stay parked over us? Is 10+ days realistically possible, or would it almost certainly subside in the 7-10 day frame?

  18. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Check out WV Loop – 8km
    It’s already developed. Once we get past Thursday I bet we see a MONSTER ridge on WV Loop.

  19. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    There is such a MAJOR pattern shift about to get underway that I personally think a sharply amplified ridge(Rather persistent) will be the result and that models will catch up to this soon.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      00z EURO is hotter for next week with 500Mb heights soaring to about 590-592dm. Persistent ridging as deep troughs dig well out in the Gulf of Alaska near 160 W. It appears quite a stable blocky pattern develops next week and may be here for quite awhile.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      May even go higher than 592…. +24c 850Mb temps extend offshore, axis is in prime location for very hot conditions. Very hot temps + lowering humidity levels + dry, gusty east wind = Increasingly high fire danger…. People better be EXTRA careful.

    • Karl Bonner says:

      Mark, how warm is “unusually warm”?

  20. Derek Hodges says:

    You are probably already aware(so if nothing else to anybody else having problems…) but none of your model links on your page to the NCEP models are working because they changed their URL. So they won’t work until you update it.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I know…I knew about it for the last month and did…nothing. I jumped on this morning and cursed myself. Also did so about 4 more times this evening.

      I’ll get it fixed when I get time though.

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      NCEP decommissioned the old site Aug 27 2011. They mentioned they would be doing so for a few months now. .

  21. bgb41 says:

    ‎00Z GFS – Nice stretch of heat coming… Possible records for middle of next week.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Oooo I was close. I predicted the models today would show a ’99’ …. Awfully close.

  22. Tyler in Battle Ground says:

    September heat is much more tolerable than July heat…though toward mid and late month I’m ready to be done with it!

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