Portland region in bull's-eye of strong east winds
Mother Nature is about to huff and puff and blast the Portland region with strong winds.
That could mean toppled trees in higher elevations and expanding wildfires.
The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning from 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, to about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. Strong Santa Ana-like east winds could blow about 15 to 30 mph during the evening. Gusts of up to 60 to 65 mph are expected in the west end of the Columbia River Gorge and Portland's West Hills. Weather Service forecasters said gusts could hit 60 to 80 mph "on exposed ridges."
"Tree limbs and even whole trees will be susceptible to being blown down," according to the National Weather Service. "Be prepared for power outages. Travel will be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles along Interstate 205."
At the same time, the region faces high temperatures in the low to mid-90s. Combine that with low humidity and high winds, and it could make a tough couple of days for the firefighters battling Oregon's 18 wildfires.
"It's going to be a challenging day," said Noel Livingston, incident commander for the 17,496-acre White River Fire in Wasco County, southeast of Mount Hood. "It's almost unprecedented for this kind of wind event this time of year."
Livingston said crews fighting the White River wildfire haven't had to deal with the type of strong east winds expected in the region. Firefighters are prepared for the high winds, he said. "The troops are going to focus on being nimble."
Eighteen wildfires are burning in Oregon and 10 in Washington, covering about 68,000 acres. The White River wildfire 20 miles west of Wamic is one of the largest in Oregon. Firefighters have it about 55% contained. The largest wildfire is the 48,128-acre Indian Creek fire in Malheur County. That fire is about 95% contained.
Late Monday afternoon, Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality advisory because of wildfire smoke blowing into the Portland region, the Willamette Valley, the Columbia River Gorge and Central Oregon. The advisory warned that people with some medical conditions could be affected by increasing smoke in the area.
The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center also said high winds could spread the wildfire smoke across the Columbia River Gorge through Tuesday.
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