Was this weekend’s east wind event unusual? No, but we ARE lucky no large fires emerged in NW Oregon & SW Washington

9pm Sunday…



The forecast played out very well these past three days…

  1. Dry easterly wind showed up and left right on schedule (Friday morning to Saturday evening)
  2. The wind was not too strong, note no wind advisories or high wind warnings across the region. That was expected
  3. Relative humidity bottomed out around 10-15% in the lowlands and foothills both afternoons as temperatures peaked.
  4. Onshore flow with higher humidity, cloud cover, and light wind arrived overnight. That ended this dangerous east wind episode.

As mentioned in previous posts…this was going to be (and ended up as) a relatively typical late summer/early fall east wind episode. The same wind speeds and temperatures in the 80s/90s just two weeks from now would be far less of a problem because (it’s assumed) rain will likely have moistened vegetation/forests. This time was a problem due to extremely dry fuels. Most of us west of the Cascades in the valleys haven’t seen measurable rain since July 6th…66 days.

KPTV Weather Blog
KPTV Weather Blog(kptv)

That is probably coming to an end tonight because at least SOME measurable rain should fall.

If you want to take a look at an extensive recap of the September 2020 windstorm and fires, you can find it here: https://fox12weather.wordpress.com/historic-september-2020-fires-labor-day-windstorm/

How did this weekend compare? Not even close. At my home in the Cascade foothills a strong easterly wind never really surfaced. I think my peak gust was only around 25 mph. Last time was 49 mph. Some other locations

Weather Station2020 Peak GustPeak Gust Friday/Saturday
Portland Airport52 mph40 mph
Glenn Jackson (I-205) Bridge6035
Timberline Magic Mile Lift (7,000′)10658
Fremont Bridge5338
Horse Creek Raws (in Cascade foothills)6636
Hillsboro Airport4437
Mt. Hebo (3,000′ in Tillamook County)9247

Again, this isn’t a surprise; that Labor Day 2020 windstorm was a historic event! One other difference was the dewpoint & relative humidity. That airmass 2 years ago was much drier. Dewpoints down around 20 degrees; this time PDX bottomed out between 30-35 degrees. Still plenty dry to allow a fire to blow up quickly in the wind, but not as extreme.

So I’d say this event was a little stronger than a typical fall event, but nothing TOO unusual.

What made this event far different was the PSPS. Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Approximately 30,000 PGE and 12,000 Pacific Power customers had power cut at some point Friday through at least midday Saturday. Pacific Power had everyone back online yesterday evening, PGE has almost everyone back on as of 9pm this evening. Mine was off for about 55 hours. This is the first time power companies in Oregon have done a widespread shutdown. I don’t have any great insight into the reasoning, other than the obvious…tree branches can fall onto a powerline and start a fire. This has happened the past few years in California and during the Labor Day 2020 windstorm in Oregon.

I’ve never seen power shut off in the western Gorge with this strength of wind in the past, even when it’s extremely dry in September. For example the power was ON the night the Eagle Creek fire was racing through the Gorge 5 years ago (although wind not quite as strong). Something clearly has changed but that’s beyond my expertise…I’d better just stick to weather!

Good Fire Season News!

The very good news is that this episode was likely the peak of fire season and things die down from this point forward. It’s turning cooler, a few showers are moving through the region tonight and tomorrow, and there’s no sign of hot weather or dry easterly wind in the next 7-10 days.


There’s a very good chance that was our only “dangerous east wind fire weather event” of 2022. Last year we had showers before the easterlies showed up, so no big fire issue in September…it won’t happen every year. There are 2 huge fires (Cedar Creek & Double Creek) burning now that are consuming the most acreage…but even these should slow to a crawl the next few days. Growth this afternoon was far less under cloud cover and cooler temps down around Oakridge & Willamette Pass


That’s it for now…enjoy the nice early fall weather this week!

57 Responses to Was this weekend’s east wind event unusual? No, but we ARE lucky no large fires emerged in NW Oregon & SW Washington

  1. Opie says:

    Only 0.22” of rain at PDX in the last 92 days. 🤧

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      And none in sight. Very depressing.

      Coupled with the non-stop warmth (hottest week ever, hottest month ever, hottest September ever?, 40 days above average in a row ending on the 16th), this ranks as the worst astronomical summer of all-time for me.

  2. Roland Derksen says:

    Rain forecasted here for Friday, then it’s back to a mix of sun and cloud (dry conditions). It’ll be interesting to see how much we’ll get. I’m predicting a bit less than half an inch.

  3. tim says:

    00z gfs is showing a pattern change in early October but take it with a gran of salt since models were showing the same thing two weeks ago for the current pattern.

    • X says:

      The GFS needs to have been retired 5 years ago. Waaaaaaaayyyyyy toooo many missing parameters. It relies too much on historical weather patterns that isn’t true anymore and will be less truer for the next 200 years.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      6z says… fuhgeddaboudit

  4. Opie says:

    Is it sort of an unwritten rule that we shouldn’t critique Cliff Mass comments on this blog? Maybe the internet version of “talking behind his back”?

  5. Anonymous says:

    That huge low moving into Western Alaska looks serious for them, and I think something similar happened last year at about this time, to Western Alaska?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Let’s just get some rain, although September is looking like it going out on a dry spell.

  7. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I was not expecting my lightning detector to go off tonight but it did. There is a thunderstorm coming up from the SE moving NW. Not sure if we’ll see lightning when the shower gets here but I can always hope 🤗

    • Anonymous says:

      Wanting lightning during a dry September is a questionable decision.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        We are going into our rainy season. Having lightning now isn’t going to be a big deal. If you look at the models, we won’t be having an extended period of dry and hot weather anytime soon. Plus, we will be having more humidity and cooler mornings which is harder for forest fires to spread.

        As it is, the lightning has stopped but the showers are coming closer to the Portland area.

  8. WEATHERDAN says:

    Still clear at Midnight. Curious. Peace

  9. Roland Derksen says:

    0.11 inches of rain today from this morning’s showers. Skies have cleared and we’re heading back into a dry and sunny pattern next week. As far as dry Septembers go, my driest on record was in 1975 with only 0.01 inches. Ironically, my wettest ever October came next.

  10. tim says:

    It’s looking very likely September will end dryer and warmer than normal maybe better luck with October regarding rain and cooler weather to put out the wildfires.

    • Opie says:

      The driest July-September at PDX was 0.25” in 2012.
      0.20” so far this year.

      Should be noted – the last 11 days of June 2022 were also dry, whereas June 2012 was rainy top to bottom (more than 4” total).

  11. Korok990 says:

    The last coal plant has finally been torn down in Oregon yesterday I think it was: 😢 so maybe a mild winter will be more of a blessing in disguise and I generally H-A-T-E mild winters!

    For cold lovers like me perhaps smaller/more frequent but not as deadly cold waves will be on tap with no super extreme polar vortex but a lot more ‘meh’ cold waves that aren’t impressive by themselves except in terms of frequency.

    Any cold wave that hits Cali hard will require them to ‘borrow’ our electricity which will be on short supply as we will likely be affected by that same cold wave too.

    West Coast version of Texas. 🤮

    BTW: The late 40s/early 50s Portland often ran low on electricity when the Gorge threatened to freeze over requiring the voltage to be dropped during the cold waves.

  12. JohnD says:

    Excellent perspectives for sure!
    A very solid event—regionally speaking.
    Even though some of us didn’t feel that way at the time.

  13. Bethany250ft says:

    Looking back on it, the December 2021 cold wave was kind of impressive regionally outside of Portland. The really cold onshore flow brought the snowiest December day on record to Eugene and the historic cold north of us. Bellingham saw their coldest December week on record beating out events like 2008, 1990, 1983, and 1972, and some of the coldest temperatures since 1990. And the major snowstorm in the Gorge and east of the Cascades to end the event. Here of course it wasn’t that special, 4 inches of snow at most and a single subfreezing high but I appreciate it as a regional event.

    • Korok#990 says:

      I’d love to see that again but a bit more teeth. Lack of clearing I think was what disallowed any serious min temps.

      I don’t want a super cold wave either due to what I said above but something like last Dec but with more teeth added would be a fun scenario.

  14. tim says:

    Weather.com has a high of 81 on the 26th for Seattle and why not after a cool wet spring and early summer nature likes to balance it self out.

  15. Roland Derksen says:

    Showers are forecasted here in BC on friday- I don’t know how much we’ll get in actual amount, but I’m betting, (and hoping) it’ll be more than what we had last time 2 weeks ago.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      I felt a couple of drops of rain here this morning so far, but nothing else. We’re still forecasted to get some showers over the next 24 hours, so we’ll wait and watch. It’s still too early in the month to consider seriously, but if this September continues with current weather conditions, it could end up being within one of the top 5 driest I’ve recorded.

  16. Zach says:

    It is looking very likely this will end up a drier than normal September. Unless we get a soaker at the very end of the month. Not that surprising as I believe the past two Septembers have both been above average rainfall.

    • tim says:

      Same for Seattle I think we’re due for a dry September and October for that matter but that wouldn’t be good for the wildfires of course.

      • Opie says:

        Several years ago we had a dry as a bone September and October (Salem).
        By late October my kids were getting really excited about trick or treating, and I decided to go all out with Halloween decorations.

        6:00 pm Halloween night it started to rain buckets. Poured non stop until 9:00. Something like 2 inches in 3 hours! What are the chances?

        The kids were drenched within minutes. Hardly any braved the weather and opted instead for indoor events.

        It was such a bitter irony considering any other 3 hour stretch and I would have been thrilled to see it finally rain! Does anyone else remember?

        • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

          I remember that day. If I recall, in the Portland area, the rain stopped in the early evening. The drive home from work in the mid-afternoon was WET. It was in 2015.

        • Opie says:

          Yes, 2015. The rain apparently started a few hours earlier in Portland.

        • West Linn 200 says:

          I remember that as well! We got completely soaked. We had to toss out a lot of the candy because the Halloween bucket accumulated so much water. I would dump out the water periodically but it wasn’t enough. and by the time the bucket filled up with candy, there was not much I could do.

  17. Mike says:

    Cedar Creek fire exploded this weekend and caused an evacuation of Oakridge and spotting across Hwy 58. The Spokane-KOTH gradient at max was 18 mb, not much below the 2020 “uncommon wind event.” It is being fought from near Hwy 19 to the Cascade Lakes Highway. The containment went back to zero, since the fire has basically involved half of Waldo Lake’s perimeter and is at 86K acres. So, while there was no problem in NW OR and SW WA, there are significant issues nearby. At least a dozen trails I have done trail work on have been burned over, and this fire alone will burn at least 1/8 of the Willamette NF, more if the dryness continues and the winds start up again. Sixth year in a row of a major west Cascade fire in purportedly a wet climate. I can hope for a mosaic burn scar; maybe there will be rain sometime in the next month or two.

  18. Andy says:

    This weekend snow levels dip down to 6,000ft over the cascades…hopefully we will have decent moisture to help with the fires in NW. It will be a welcome change.

    • tim says:

      Models are trending dryer after this weekend now, so much for that progressive pattern they were showing a few days ago.

      • Timenators says:

        Longer nights, higher humidity, and highs in the low 70’s will lessen the fire danger and allow the crews to get more control of the fires. With any luck some rain for Cedar Creek fire

  19. Roland Derksen says:

    It’s unfortunate that this smoke has come over us: Just a few days ago we were having excellent visibility because of brisk west winds. then the direction changed over the weekend, and we have this junk to breathe! Believe it or not, I had a brief sprinkle of rain here at 10:30am from some passing clouds, but it’s going to have to be a full day of rain before we get some fresh air again.

  20. tim says:

    The 06 z is just as unreliable as the 18z both runs should be removed permanently from the gfs the 00z and 12z on the other hand is much more reliable.

    • Michael says:

      I haven’t been looking at the models, I usually watch the ‘full disc’ satilite loop. Right now it looks like a somewhat promising bold new air mass may hit almost the entire west coast. I don’t know how much moisture associated but, at least it is the beginning of a new trend and hopefully end the drought. Keep the faith everyone.

  21. KPTV’s site doesn’t have RSS, near as I can tell, which makes it much less useful. I don’t “go to bookmarks,” I check my feed reader.

  22. OC550 says:

    I’ll take whatever rain we can get this time of year. Nice to dampen things a bit at least. Looks like we are done with the 90’s for 2022. Happy to see that too.

  23. oregondean says:

    The power cut-offs are certainly to try to eliminate sparking and fires in risky areas … but the real motivation is that power companies are being held liable for those fires (see California history on this), and they need to mitigate financial risk. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/05/california-finds-pge-equipment-responsible-for-massive-dixie-fire-.html

    • runrain says:

      Just like the airlines telling you to keep your seatbelt fastened until the plans is at ghe gate.

      Signs of a heatwave emerging at the end of September??

  24. Long-range models aren’t showing a “solid” wet signal yet. Decent chance of showers next weekend, but disagreement as to how much (if any) precip. If we don’t get a serious soaking and another warm east wind shows up in late September, we could very well see more fire conditions.

    I’m not saying that this scenario is likely, but it is a reasonable possibility.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Yep. All-time dry streak appears to be in the bag on Friday now that we haven’t gotten more than a trace out of these showers. 6z GFS is bone dry thorough the whole run.

      48 out of the last 50 days have been above normal.

      • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

        Looks like PDX just got .01”. The streak is over. Now we can shoot for the driest July/August/September ever.

  25. Bethany250ft says:

    Are there any plans to add a way to search for blog posts by date on the new site? And comments as well?

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah I’d really hate to lose the comments. That’s where a lot of the fun comes from in the winter as knowledgeable hobbyist give their interpretations of the models and aren’t beholden to the journalistic standards of the official KPTV weather team.

      • PhilGil says:

        Agreed. I don’t post often but I enjoy reading the comments. What I’m hoping is that we’ll still be able to comment here even if Mark only posts to the official blog.

        Not that the comments section couldn’t use some moderation and I’m surprised that the forum has lasted this long without requiring a login.

      • Mark Nelsen says:

        I don’t have any plan to turn off comments. But I also don’t have time to moderate like I did in the past. The scary yellow box up top was just to give a warning that sometimes a post will be delayed. OR, I could just do an extremely quick post that gives a link to KPTV website. That would activate the RSS feed notice I suppose

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