Ignited by lightning strikes on hot and tinder dry forests, more than a dozen large wildfires are raging throughout the Pacific Northwest of the United States and up into British Columbia Friday.
In Oregon and Washington alone, more than 310,000 acres were ablaze as of yesterday (July 17), according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. That’s an area more than twice the size of the city of Chicago.
An image acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite Thursday provides a broad geographic overview of the region. There are obvious wildfire complexes in Oregon and Washington and extending up into British Columbia, where plumes of smoke can be seen streaming from fires there.
More than 70 per cent of Oregon is now in drought, according to the latest report of the US Drought Monitor, issued also Thursday. Temperatures in the Northwest overall have recently averaged 8 to 12 degrees F above normal, with highs in the 90’s and 100’s.
Conditions in Washington state are not as dry as they are in Oregon. Even so, half of the state is abnormally dry, and 33 per cent is experiencing moderate to severe drought.
Two significant wildfires and one smaller one are visible in the image of British Columbia above, acquired also by the Aqua satellite Thursday. The Eutsuk Lake Fire is currently estimated at 3,576 acres by the British Columbia Wildfire Management Branch.
To the east are the two much larger fires. First is the Chelaslie River Fire estimated at 32,124 acres. And still farther east is the Euchiniko Lakes blaze, currently at 17,297 acres.
According to the three-month outlook from the US Climate Prediction Center, the odds are better than even that Oregon and Washington, as well as California, Nevada and parts of Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana, will experience above normal temperatures. And for much this region, drought conditions are expected to persist through at least the end of October.