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Showing posts from July, 2014

Hurricane Creek Fire in NE Oregon

HURRICANE CREEK FIRE IN NE OREGON   Hurricane Creek fire continues to burn and was started by lightning on July 14th and is burning on steep, heavily timbered slopes. It is located approximately 4 miles southwest of Joseph, Oregon in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The fire is burning on the backside of Chief Joseph Mountain in the Dunn Creek drainage east of Hurricane Creek. It has burned over 500 acres and is 80% contained. Wildfire smoke from Hurricane Creek has trickled into Joseph and Enterprise over the last week.  There has been good progress on fighting the fire, and yesterday fire crews conducted a burnout along the north face of the fire.  Smoke in Enterprise increased in the afternoon on July 30 th and peaked at 5PM.  According to Nathan Goodrich the Wallowa Zone Fire Management Officer from the USFS, the smoke was caused by a SW down canyon wind from a passing thunderstorm that pushed smoke into the valley. The event was short-lived once the north wind returned.

Where was the worst smoke?

Currently, the smoke from the wildfires in Oregon has settled down and the region is enjoying good air quality.  During this break, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the past few weeks, since the big lightning storm on July 12th to see which areas around the state incurred the highest impacts from smoke. The graph and table below show that Prineville, Burns, John Day, and Lakeview experienced the worst smoke, with each of these communities having at least one day exceeding 35 ug/m3 PM2.5 24-hour average. (Disclaimer, the data used for this analysis is preliminary and has not been officially quality assured by the State of Oregon). The worst of the smoke occurred during the period of July 16-19th. Site Maximum 24-hour PM2.5 Date of Maximum 24-hour Avg No. of days with 24-hour Avg PM2.5 > 35 ug/m3 Baker City 14.5 July 18, 2014 0 Bend 23.2 July 16, 2014
Current Smoke Conditions in Vale/Juntura/Brogan, Oregon July 26th, 2014   The spatial extent of the smoke is restricted to within a few miles of the individual fires on the Kitten Complex and the fires from the surrounding area.  Most of the smoke that can be seen from any distance is white (meaning that the fuels are light grass and light brush), and the result of the suppression actions being taken to be sure the fires stay within the current established fire lines.  The smoke maybe most noticeable at the peak temperature for the day because this is when the burn out activities will be most effective.  The communities of Vale, Juntura and Brogan should not see any significant smoke today, and unless conditions change with the expected lightning (bringing new fires) early next week, this condition should be the norm for the foreseeable (two or three days) future. The map below shows the locations of the communities in reference to the fire locations.  Please notice that, as of
The Hurricane Creek Fire (Created by Jim Brenner) The Hurricane Creek Fire started as a lightning strike on July 13, 2014 grew to 120 acres by the 18 th of July.  What we see from the AQI index (pm 2.5 Air Quality table at the end of this post) is that despite an almost five fold increase in size on the 20 th of July,  for a total of 645 acres, the worst air quality measured in Enterprise occurred on July 16 th and 17 th .  (See the photo to the left for the 17 th .)  This prompts the question, since the wind direction was the same during the runs on the 16 th and 17 th as we saw on the 20 th , and the amount of fuel consumed and particulate matter lofted was much higher (north facing slope on the 20 th with heavy down/dead fuels that spotted into the crowns) why were Enterprise and Joseph spared on the 20 th .  The answer to this question is the vertical instability of the air on the 20 th ( see the vertical column picture on the left from the 20 th of July.) with higher

Updated Air Quality Report for Central Oregon

Smoke Synopsis (prepared by Daniel Chan & Andrea Holland, Air Resource Advisor)­­­­­               Widespread lightning strikes with about 0.25 inch of rain occurred in Central Oregon yesterday. Maximum temperatures for today is expected to be about 65 degrees F in the valleys and minimum humidity is expected to be about 55%.  Wildfires are not expected to spread today.  Smoke from smoldering fires will remain within the fire area and is expected to be light and not impact downwind communities.         Bend and Sisters had Good air quality, but Prineville and Madras had Moderate air quality yesterday.   Downwind communities are expected to see good air quality today and tomorrow.                      Higher temperatures and lower humidity are expected on Thursday which may result in increased fire behavior and/or potential new fire starts from Tuesday’s lightning strikes. Air Quality Outlook  (Particulate Matter less than 2.5 µm in diameter)

Updated Air Quality Report for Central Oregon

Smoke Synopsis (prepared by Daniel Chan & Andrea Holland, Air Resource Advisor)­­­­­        Air quality monitors indicate that yesterday’s air quality was moderate for particulate matter in Madras and Prineville. Bend and Sisters continued to experience good air quality.  Thunder showers are expected in the area today along with increased humidity.  Lightning is unlikely to result in new fire starts.  Any fire growth and resulting smoke in the next couple of days will be mostly related to burn-out operations.    Wind is forecast to come from the West this afternoon which will push smoke from fires to the East.  Strong winds associated with thundershowers can disperse smoke. Rain associated with thundershowers can also wash out particulate matter in the air.    Good air quality is likely to continue at Bend and Sisters.  Prineville probably will see some improvement from yesterday, but air quality is likely to remain in the Moderate range for today