Despite rain showers over the weekend in much of Northeast Oregon, fire officials say the region is still ripe for wildfires.
“It’s dry,” said Joe Hessel, a forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Northeast Oregon. “I think, statewide, Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands have had four times the average number of fires.”
Not only are the number of fires higher for this time of year but, Hessel said, the number of acres burned is three times higher than normal.
Besides dry conditions, the National Weather Service in Pendleton predicts high winds as being the new normal for the region as the climate continues to warm. “If we’re looking ahead, temperatures are gradually warming, which gives the possibility for thermal gradients across the Cascades to set up, creating greater westerly winds,” said Brandon Lawhorn, a meteorologist at Pendleton’s NWS office.