Upcoming Heat Wave In NCW, Eastern WA Could Boost Wildfire Danger
The state Department of Natural Resources is advising the public that low acreage totals for wildfires could rapidly expand.
DNR says drought conditions are expected to worsen over the coming weeks, and extended forecast models show the potential for a heat wave in early August.
National Weather Service meteorologist Krista Carrothers confirms the weather will heat up.
"So, it does look like we are going to have a little bit of a heat wave coming up for the first week of August," said Carrithers. "It does appear that temperatures are going to be in the upper 90s and to low 100s for several days. Just how long that's going to go is uncertain at this time."
Carrothers says the fire danger will be highest during hot, dry and windy days, while wind at night is less of an issue because humidity levels are higher.
Humidity levels are typically in the upper 20s and low 30s in terms of percentage at night. The Weather Service is looking for humidity levels in the teens before it issues any kind of advisory or Red Flag Warning.
Carrothers says the ground conditions are also contributing to the fire risk.
"The low elevations, even up to some of the mid-level elevations in the mountains, those areas are pretty much cured," Carrothers said. "So, all the fuels, grasses, smaller trees, those are ready to go and burn."
The expected early August heat wave is expected to elevate wildfire risk for all of eastern Washington.
Carrothers says the only remaining portion of the region that is relatively safe from fires is the upper elevations in the Cascade Mountains where there’s enough moisture to keep grasses and ground vegetation green.
The Newell Road Fire in Klickitat County is by far the largest fire in Washington state.
It's burned more than 61,000 acres, or 97 square miles, making up three-quarters of all the acres burned in wildfires this year. Containment has reached 50% at the Newell Road..