Mt. Hood Fire Update

September 3, 2011

Since it’s all we can see this afternoon (smoke and haze), here’s an update at 2pm or so:

Strong winds out of the east pushed the west perimeter of the fire in the Mt. Hood Wilderness as far west as Cathedral Ridge/Mazama Trail area today. As soon as winds subside and smoke clears fire personnel will have a more accurate assessment of fire location and size. Smoke has been heavy and is visible as far west as Portland. The wind is predicted to diminish later this afternoon.

Three air tankers, three heavy helicopters, two medium, and one light helicopter are working the fire. Retardant drops have been approved for Wilderness suppression as part of the aggressive fire fighting effort.

This would account for the amount of smoke today; sure doesn’t seem like 500 burning acres would put out as much as we’ve seen.  As I mentioned on Facebook, interesting that you can’t take wheeled vehicles into the Wilderness, but dumping tons of retardant is okay.  I’m definitely not a fan of machines or bikes in official Wilderness areas, but I would have thought they would let it burn until it reaches into the “regular” forest.

The picture above is cut out of a TERRA satellite image taken around 11:50am.  You can see what a narrow area (central/northern metro & western Gorge) are under the thick smoke.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Yellow Skies and Extreme Fire Danger

September 3, 2011

The most obvious feature on the satellite loop (here) this morning is the huge smoke plume that’s suddenly appeared over the Dollar Lake Fire on Mt. Hood.  It’s spreading right over the Portland/Vancouver Metro area.  I’ve seen 2 or 3 firefighting planes droning overhead heading (I assume) from the Troutdale fire base up to the fire.   One might have been one of those big DC-10s too; although I’m no plane expert for sure. 

Looking at the image and what we see outside, one would think the fire is blowing up dramatically.  That may not be the case…check this out from the InciWeb site: 

Today, there is a 500-acre controlled burn that will create a lot of smoke.This is scheduled to start sometime after 10 a.m. The burn will help securethe northeast side of the fire closest to the community of Cooper Spur. “Inorder to secure the line between the fire and the community we’ll bebringing fire closer to Cooper Spur, over the next couple of days,” said Carl West, Incident Commander. “Folks will see more smoke but that is theresult of our firing operations which are a key part of securing thenortheast flank of the fire,” West added.

Strong east wind and quickly dropping relative humidities have prompted a Red Flag Warning over the Cascades and west slopes too.  Be careful with anything fire-related this weekend!

That east wind has gusted to 43 mph at Vista House and 36 mph at Corbett in the Gorge, and closer to 50 mph at some spots in the South Washington Cascades.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen