Fire Season Roaring Now in Oregon

11pm Wednesday…

There are 12 major fires burning across Oregon this evening, some of them have grown from lightning strikes to thousands of acres in just a day or so.


The Cornet fire south of Baker City (SE of Phillips Reservoir) has blossomed to 12,000+ acres just in the past few hours, and the Warm Springs fire MAY have been started by sparks from a vehicle since several small fires along Hwy. 26 merged together in a short period of time.  Coming back from Wallowa Lake camping at midday today it was obvious a large fire was burning on the south side of Mt. Adams.  The fire plume reached 32,000′ at one point; measured by the Portland radar as a “thunderstorm top”


We have some rain on the way, on Friday, but only for northwest Oregon and western Washingon.  East of the Cascades it will remain dry.

The National Complex fires just south of Diamond Lake in SW Oregon have put the Diamond Lake resort areas on a Level 1 evacuation.  That means GET READY; just a contingency in case those fires make a run toward the lake.  That’s a beautiful area, as most of our state is, so I would hate to see it burned.  Of course fires have burned in our region every summer since WAY before people ever showed up, so “it is what it is” I suppose.

We have showers coming on Friday.  Just one day, but some hefty showers likely.  Maybe even a thundershower.  Our RPM is guessing a quarter-inch or so in the valleys;


not exactly a drought-buster, but it’ll settle the dust and clear out the air.  The WRF-GFS from the UW shows similar totals.  .10-.30″ in the valleys.


I spent 3 nights with the family camping at Wallowa Lake Sunday-this morning.  What a beautiful few days.  Yesterday was a real scorcher with temperatures 90+ even at that elevation!  This is one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon; don’t you agree?  I’m not a fisherman, but my son now is so I’ve played along.  Pathetic that all I caught was some sort of sucker-type fish.  At least he got his 5 Trout limit in under an hour.

Mark_Wallowa Lake

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

80 Responses to Fire Season Roaring Now in Oregon

  1. schmit44 says:

    8/14/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:102 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft) & CW2049 Imnaha(1978 ft)
    Low: 75 at LAKE OWHEE AND O(2400 ft)

    High:50 at Rim(7050 ft)
    Low: 30 at KIRK (4519 ft ) & IMBLER (2749 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 43 degrees
    IMBLER (96/53 ) (2749 ft )
    CW1102 Wallowa (92/49) (2946 ft)
    Lakeview, Lake C (79/36) (4734 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.49″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)

  2. Jason Hougak says:

    Ahh… just the smell of freshly falling rain is amazing.

  3. David B. says:

    It’s over… for now. After 5 1/2 hours, the rain has stopped. Sky is really getting light and radar says the trailing edge of the precip has passed me. Today’s totals:

    Thunderstorms Nos. 1 to 4 (midnight to dawn): 0.10″
    Thunderstorm No. 5: 1.20″
    TOTAL: 1.30″

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    Mark it is a great idea to ALWAYS carry a state fishing regulation guide. Everybody of water in Oregon can vary on fish count, type and tackle. My dad lost all his gear once years ago to a game warden, prolly cost over $500 with gear and ticket.

  5. Jason Hougak says:

    Well at least Washington is getting blessed with manna from Heaven.

    • David B. says:

      The inner core of my gauge which measures the first inch has overflowed. I’d estimate about 1.25″ here so far. Will take an exact measurement when it’s all over. 1.15″ of that is from the most recent event and 0.10 from last night’s thunderstorms.

      It’s definitely winding down for me now. The big yellow-and-orange radar blob is now just yellow and has moved to the east of me. Rain is lighter than it’s been for several hours.

      Really looking forward to taking a walk in woods that will again be moist and fresh instead of dry and dusty.

  6. WEATHERDAN says:

    No rain from the ULL. And now we go back to the warm to hot and dry weather. Great news for Puget Sound. Lousy news for us. Reminds me of those can’t miss Winter events. On Monday they predict 6-10 inches of snow and a high of 25 for Saturday. On Wednesday they predict 3-6 inches of snow and a high of 28. On Friday they predict 1-2 inches and a high of 31. What we get is Partly cloudy and 38. Same stuff different season. The last two can’t miss rain events Salem has got exactly .01. Oh well October is only two months away. Peace.

    • Only a trace here in Vancouver, BC. I’ve been looking at the radar screen several times this afternoon- lots of precipitation everywhere to the south and just to the east. Outside I can see the heavy cloud toward the eastern horizon, but it’s too far away from me! 😦

  7. David B. says:

    I guess Thunderstorm No. 5 is now over, because it’s been a good half-hour since I’ve heard any thunder. The moderate-to-heavy rain, however, continues, and looks like it will continue for some time, given how I’m right smack-dab in the middle of a huge area of very slowly-moving yellow and orange radar echoes.

  8. W7ENK says:

    According to OTEC (Oregon Trail Electric Co-op) Facebook page, a sizable portion of Central/Eastern Oregon is currently in jeopardy of losing power due to wildfire advancing on transmission lines. John Day/Canyon City to Quartz, ID? I’m not entirely sure where Quartz is, TBH.

  9. pappoose in scappoose says:

    My roof’s talking to me, W7. Says, “I’m getting wet.”

    • David B. says:

      Welcome to the rain club! Hope more falls down your way.

      Two hours in, Thunderstorm No. 5 is still going strong, with gusty winds, moderate/heavy rain, and frequent thunder. Take the thunder and lightning out of the picture and with the wind and rain it feels like a lot like November here today.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      The gully didn’t get washed here. Barely enough moisture to settle the dust.

  10. David B. says:

    Thunder is rumbling again, skies are darkening, and raindrops are starting to hit the south-facing windows in my home office. It’s time for Thunderstorm No. 5!

  11. White knuckle drive up I-5 to the hawks game…

    • runrain says:

      And yet many folks don’t slow down with the conditions. Just waiting for that nasty accident to happen and a big pileup of traffic. Drive safe, Muxpux!

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Be careful and don’t text and drive

    • Paul D says:

      I was on I5 to Seattle once and it was pouring hard, but people kept doing 70+. I stayed in the right lane and hoped nobody lost traction and slammed into me.

      Complete idiots with no regard to safety……

    • I was stopped in traffic. Took over 4.5 hours to get here. Had to buy an umbrella at Home Depot. Lots of lightning, ponding, and low visibility. And traffic. Good god the traffic.

  12. WEATHERDAN says:

    ULL now appears to be centered off Northern WA coast. Some light precipitation moving up Oregon coast and dying out as it does. I expect little to no rainfall in Salem from this system. Then we dry out and warm up. No really hot weather in sight but days of 86-92 ahead. Salem streaks as follows, consecutive days over 70-72. Nights consecutive over 50+- 53. Rainfall since June 2-.01 In other words it’s been warm and dry. August avg 2014 74.5. August avg so far in 2015 74.1. We are only slightly cooler this year than last year. We were a little bit warmer in July of 2015 than 2014. And June of 2015 was significantly warmer this year than last. So it looks like this year will be even warmer than the record hot Summer we had last year. 75 and partly cloudy at Noon. Peace.

  13. Garron near Washington square says:

    Well, I was just drifting off to sleep, but Mother Nature has different ideas! I work graveyard, consequently the most interesting weather ALWAYs happens when I try to sleep! PS, I just moved near the Hillsboro airport for reference!

  14. runrain says:

    Small cell just west of Longview. Another one near Vernonia. Any observations from our Vernonia friend?

    • vernonia1 says:

      Been here since 10am. Zip, zero, nada 😦 p.s. I live in Forest Grove now..but still work out here part time

  15. David B. says:

    Overcast and 60 at high noon. Quite a change from the typical pattern this summer. Been getting some drizzle but no more thunder since this morning.

    • Plenty of clouds and fairly breezy here, but nary a drop of rain yet! The sky is starting to lighten up now, actually. If we get some rain here (or drizzle?)I don’t think it’ll be much. Disappointing!

  16. Jason Hougak says:

    If this is going to be a super El Niño then get ready for the super La Niña whiplash in 2017!

  17. W7ENK says:

    Timelapse of last evening’s amazing sunset from Milwaukie.

  18. runrain says:

    Almost looks like that ULL is retrograding or moving south instead of ejecting northeast as the NWS was predicting. Wondering if maybe we get almost nothing out of it in PDX. That blob, man, that blob!

  19. David B. says:

    KABOOM! 3:00 AM thunderstorm. Nice big drops are falling outside but so far at best at only a moderate rate. Hopefully the pace of the rain will pick up. We need a good soaking.

    • David B. says:

      And they keep forming and tracking over me!

      Thunderstorm No. 1 (above) gave a bit more rain then fizzled. Never got heavy.

      Thunderstorm No. 2 was brief and dry.

      No. 3 gave a fair amount of additional rain.

      No. 4 is in the process of rolling in as I type this. Already raining lightly.

      Count may be off somewhat as it’s gotten to the point where I am mostly sleeping through them. Confusingly, I’ve been incorporating them into my dreams of a day on the island with multiple thunderstorms.

    • No showers here yet, David, but they are coming. We should see something well before noon. This date back in 1978, I measured 1.6 inches. I hope we get at least half that amount today.

    • David B. says:

      Well, the total for all that early morning sturm und drang was a somewhat underwhelming 0.10 inches. Still, any moisture is welcome moisture in this drought.

      Action is forecast to pick up again this afternoon or evening, so here’s hoping we get more.

  20. ns says:

    Rayleigh scattering….sky is blue because shorter wavelengths are scattered more than longer ones….sky is red during fires because most of the blue is scattered and only red wavelengths are left….Mark got that wrong today.

  21. schmit44 says:

    8/13/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:107 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft) & CW2049 Imnaha(1978 ft)
    Low: 77 at HEPP(311 ft) & BLALOK(277 ft)

    High:59 at YACHTS Yachats(72 ft)
    Low: 30 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 56 degrees
    CROW FLAT (90/34 ) (5172 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.05″ at La Grande/Union(2717ft)
    0.03″ at Bend(3650ft)

  22. umpire says:

    Will be heading to Wallowa lake a week from Sunday, camping with family. Try to get over there nearly every year. What a great place.

  23. Jason Hougak says:

    That Wallowa Lake picture next to our family friends house. They live across from Cheif Joesphs grave.
    This dry weather and pollution is really getting bad. The smog was really bad today.
    I’ve been camping the past 4 weekends and have really seen how dry things are. Hiked Tam McArthur Rim to Broken Top from 3 Creeks Lake Meadow. Picked our own route up through scramble between little 3 Creeks Lake. The lake at Broken Top which usually is 1/2 covered by glacier is totally free. The 3 Sisters have very little glacier ice left.
    Everyone we talked to agreed that this is becoming a hardship on our beloved snow capped peaks. With this turning into a very strong El Niño who knows what’s in store for next year. I for one hope this pattern ends soon and a massive cold period starts to balance things out again.

  24. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    81 @ 6:45 PM vs 88 last night, nice cooling breeze blowing

  25. Jeff says:

    Forgot to post this at the end of the month, but here it is.

    Averages\Extremes for the month of July 2015

    Average temperature = 72.0°F
    Average humidity = 60%
    Average dewpoint = 55.0°F
    Average barometer = 29.822 in.
    Average windspeed = 0.5 mph
    Average gustspeed = 1.5 mph
    Average direction = 322° ( NW)
    Rainfall for month = 0.768 in. (Wettest July on record)
    Rainfall for year = 21.012 in.
    Maximum rain per minute = 0.040 in on day 13 at time 01:55
    Maximum temperature = 104.2°F on day 30 at time 17:06
    Minimum temperature = 51.0°F on day 27 at time 06:34
    Maximum humidity = 100% on day 27 at time 09:01
    Minimum humidity = 10% on day 31 at time 16:15
    Maximum dewpoint = 64.7°F on day 09 at time 17:59
    Minimum dewpoint = 33.5°F on day 31 at time 15:28
    Maximum pressure = 30.10 in. on day 28 at time 03:51
    Minimum pressure = 29.51 in. on day 09 at time 18:36
    Maximum windspeed = 8.1 mph from 00°( N ) on day 21 at time 16:23
    Maximum gust speed = 20.7 mph from 338°(NNW) on day 14 at time 16:00
    Maximum heat index = 99.9°F on day 30 at time 17:35
    Avg daily max temp :87.3°F
    Avg daily min temp :57.8°F
    Total windrun = 378.4miles
    Record low wind chill temperature = 51 on day 27 at time 07:15
    Record daily rain = 0.36” on day 13
    Record rain in 1 hour = 0.35” on day 13 at time 02:23
    Warmest day (6am to 6pm) = 97 on day 02
    Coldest night (6pm to 6am) = 57.9 on day 26
    Coldest day (6am to 6pm) = 63 on day 25

    Warmest night (6pm to 6am) = 79.2on day 31

    Daily rain totals

    00.36 in. on day 13
    00.25 in. on day 25
    00.16 in. on day 26
    Records since October 2008

  26. Boring Oregon says:

    I hope you were fishing before 2 o’clock and not breaking the law. 😉

  27. WEATHERDAN says:

    83 at 2:30 PM. Sunny with a few cirrus. A lot of smoke and haze in the air. Should get some showers from the ULL but probably not more than .15 unless we get a TRW. Then we could see maybe .5. Next two weeks look warm and dry with a couple of hot days here and there. But no big heat wave. Still when all is said and done this should be our warmest Summer on record. This is what the top five should look like. 1. 2015, 2. 2014, 3. 1967, 4. 1958, 5. 2013. It is our very warm Summer nights that are making us so warm. Peace.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Urban heat islands. I would think that they make up alot of the differences in heat since the 50’s or whenever.

  28. W7ENK says:

    Glad to hear your boy has taken to fishing! Good for him, limiting in under an hour?! Sheesh, he must be doing something right, I usually get skunked! Now, just wait ’til he catches his first salmon on the Columbia… 🙂

  29. runrain says:

    Based on the visible satellite time lapse, it looks like those fires around Diamond Lake are really ramping up. Check it out.

  30. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    24 days 90+ at PDX, just 15 here in Battle Ground.

    There have been a number of days right around the 90 degree mark where they have warmed above, and my station hasn’t. A good example is the last two days. 89 at my house both days, 91 at PDX.

  31. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    I’m loving waking up to these clouds today. I can’t wait for the haze and smoke of summer to wash away and leave us the crisp, clear and cool days of fall…

  32. billowen123 says:

    HELLO MARK, I just wanted to say you have the best weather blog in Portland, the degree of detail you go into makes all of your posts interesting.

    I’d also like to say that this summer is sad to me in a way, because its the clearest evidence of climate change I’ve seen since living in Portland for 55 years. Hot humid days with a sun that doesn’t seem like its going to go away. The longer and protracted wild fire seasons are evidence of it too. These fires take up so many resources: money, time, and lives. Confronting and then reversing climate change should be everyone’s number one priority. Thankfully your blog acknowledges it in many ways and is a realistic assessment of what is going on. Thanks for being a good writer!! Sincerely, Bill

    • lmh says:

      I have lived in the northwest my entire life. Some summers are hot. In 1986? it was over 100 for seven days. Some summers are cold. In 1981 we had what they called the “summer of the mini summers” because it was mainly cloudy with a few nice days. Most summers are in between. I admit this summer is extreme but it is hardly out of the range of normal. Years fluctuate.

      • billowen123 says:

        HELLO SIR, Thank You for responding. I would have to respectfully disagree. 1986 was a long time ago. The time I noticed climate change was happening was in 1990, when the summers started getting longer and the winters started getting drier. September is now a reliable month for summer weather, it never used to be. Snow is the exception during the winter now, when it used to be the opposite.

        Melting ice caps, rising tides, extreme weather all over the country and around the world, I don’t think we need any more evidence. But let’s assume, for argument’s sake, you are correct, there is no global warming. Wouldn’t it be best to take preventative measures? Wouldn’t it be best to walk more and drive less? Wouldn’t it be best to ask corporations to stop dumping carbon into our atmosphere? Then, as you say, global warming would never occur.

        Thank you for your comment Sir and please have a great day!!


    • quacksax says:


      Many locations in Western Oregon are on track to have their warmest summer on record, topping 2014 and 2009 for the distinction. We seem to be setting daily, monthly, and yearly temperature records with ease. I think it’s safe to say we are entering territory that is “out of the range of normal”.

  33. cgavic says:

    Right now have clear skies and 65° in sandy. Assuming according to N7OAA discussion page we’ll be cloudy by 9a(?)

  34. The Cougar Creek Fire in Washington southeast of Mount Adams has now grown to 5,000 acres. Last I heard tonight there are 242 personnel on the fire with more resources on the way. NWS Spokane sent a IMET team to the fire scene. They do have some helicopters and fixed wing aircraft also on the fire too.

  35. schmit44 says:

    8/12/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:106 at EW1140 Umatilla( 364 ft) & JUNIPR(359 ft)
    Low: 77 at JUNIPR(359 ft) & Celilo – East of(225 ft)

    High:62 at Port Orford(0 ft) & YACHTS Yachats(72 ft)
    Low: 36 at Sand Creek (US 9 (4524 ft ) & KIRK (4519 ft ) & CRAZYMAN FLAT (6180 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 49 degrees
    Agency Lake (91/42 ) (4150 ft )
    Lakeview, Lake C (88/39) (4734 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.13″ at PRARIE CITY(3753ft)
    0.12″ at ANTELOPE(6460ft)
    0.11″ at K7ZQU-7 Santiam(4790ft)

  36. High Desert Mat says:

    Thanks for the update Mark. Just left work in Terrebonne and drove home to Redmond in thick smoke from the warm springs fire. Ash is now falling from the sky. If it were cold outside I would think it is winter, looks like fog outside. I live the smell though I cannot lie.

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