Current situation

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Oregon's drought persists despite recent light rainfall

SALEM, Ore. - It will take some time for recent rains to make up for the state's exceptionally dry summer. Precipitation for the month of August was well below normal according to the Oregon Water Conditions Report, issued by the Oregon Water Resources Department. Some areas received as little as 5 percent of normal precipitation. Areas west of the Cascades and northwestern Oregon were especially dry.

In the past 30 days temperatures have been generally warmer than normal, particularly in the northeast, southwest, and southeast corners of the state.

In the past two weeks temperatures have been cooler at the coast, in the Cascades and in the north central region. The exceptions were eastern and southeastern regions of the state, where temperatures were up to six degrees warmer than normal for this time of year.

Over the next 8 to 14 days, the federal Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an increased probability of above-normal temperatures across most of Oregon. The most recent three-month outlook still indicates increased chances of above-normal temperatures statewide.

Drought conditions not yet over in Oregon

The most recent update to the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates continued drought conditions across Oregon. According to the Monitor's Sept. 4, 2018 report, 100% of the state is listed as abnormally dry, with 84% in severe drought and almost 22% in extreme drought.  

At the start of September, nine Oregon counties were under state-declared drought status. Twelve counties as of Sept. 5 met U.S. Department of Agriculture's drought designation. 

Oregon statewide water year precipitation at snow-monitoring sites continues to hover at just under 86% of normal. The lowest values are in the Rogue/Umpqua basins at 76% of normal for the water year. The highest amounts of water-year precipitation are currently in the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Willow basins with 102% of normal.

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The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

What we do

Protection jurisdiction
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy
The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


About Me

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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.