News, Weather, Wildfire

Red Flag Warning issued for region as possibility of lightning looms

The Portland office of the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday, saying that the possibility of lightning and wind gusts moving through the Willamette Valley could result in “numerous fire starts.”

The area the Red Flag was issued for stretches across much of western Oregon, including the Cascade foothills across to the Coast Range, and includes the east slopes of the northern Coast Range, such as areas near Gales Creek, Timber, and the Tillamook State Forest, and areas further south.

Specifically, the NWS said that scattered thunderstorms with abundant lightning were expected in the affected area.

Coupled with gusty, erratic winds with forecasted highs of 35 mph possible and critically dry fuels, the storms could pose a serious wildfire threat.

“Thunderstorm outflow winds may result in erratic fire spread,” the NWS said.

To date, wildfire season has been tame in the corner of Oregon comprising much of the northern Coast Range and surrounding areas.

In an email sent Monday, area Oregon Department of Forestry Officials noted the lack of significant wildfire activity locally.

“It has been very quiet. A few runs on illegal burns, the occasional unattended campfire and so on, but nothing of any size or significance. The hot weather has cured the fuels – the 1000 hour fuels are down to about 15 percent,” the email signed by the three district foresters working in the area noted.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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