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jinx'sboy
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 10:17 am 
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treeswarper wrote:
...east winds were common, which would dry things out and rekindle the slash burns making October into a busy month...

Yes, I recall going to the west side side several times, on these escaped slash fires... and camping in the cold/wet and!   One particularly memorable one was right up under the west side of Mt. St. Helens, musta been about 1985, very late in the season - frozen pumps, stiff boots, etc etc...
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gb
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 1:08 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
From an article I just read in the Seattle Times:

Gusts out of the east Monday topped 55 mph in the Columbia River Gorge, clocked in at nearly 50 mph near White Pass and hit 26 mph in Seattle.

By Tuesday, the Cascade Mountains’ west slope was parched. Relative humidity measures dropped as low as 6%.

“Six percent is like Joshua Tree — desert,” Clark said. “It doesn’t get much lower. I guess on Mars.”

In early September 1902, a series of fires — buoyed by an east wind — sprang up in Southwest Washington. Now known as the Yacolt Burn.

Joshua Halofsky, a research scientist with the Washington DNR, said the Yacolt Burn bears remarkable resemblance to the events last week.

Massive fires across the western slopes of Washington and Oregon’s Cascades — such as the Yacolt and the Tillamook Burn, which began in the 1930s — share a common recipe.

“You need the end of summer after a warm and dry period, an ignition source and those east winds,” Halofsky said. “You need that rare alignment of all these key ingredients to get these large fires going.”

“There’s always enough fuel on the landscape” to burn, Halofsky said, adding that scientists believe large fires swept through dense Western Washington forests every hundred years or so. These fires are considered “stand-replacing” — meaning entire swaths of the forest would be seared away and set to regrow.

One fire episode — in 1701 — burned between 3 and 10 million acres in Western Washington, Halofsky said, citing a forest service review.

Along with Halofsky, Raymond is among a team of scientists trying to determine whether these east wind events are growing more or less frequent or intense.

“We have clear evidence climate change is setting the stage. The piece we don’t have is whether climate change is affecting these east wind events that trigger” these large wildfires, Raymond said.

“I wasn’t expecting to see an east wind-driven fire event like this in my life, but here it is,” said Daniel Gavin, professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

I think what has been unusual this year is the extreme amplitude and persistence of the Four Corners High, and then in this case a very rare surface high pressure that moved out of BC. I think those two combined.

A 'Santa Anna" wind is not uncommon in especially Southern California in later summer/fall. But a persistent east wind event from Washington through California simultaneously is essentially unprecedented. None of us have seen that in our lifetimes.

The extreme strength of the Four Corner High was also record setting with Las Vegas only having two days under 100F from July 1st through about September 5th, Death Valley hitting 129.9F and Los Angeles recording 116F in September. Our extreme high freezing levels of late is testament to the high amplitude of the desert high which extended all the way to us and well out in the ocean.
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xrp
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 1:14 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
Why didn't all the powers that be (Governor, National Forests, ect) enact a mandatory stay at home order last Monday? The winds only lasted about 48 hours, so the order would have only been needed for 48 hours. If everyone in Washington was forced to sit in their house for the 2 days, there would have been a lot less fires started.

I understand a mandatory stay at home order would have been unprecedented and highly unusual. It should be reserved for extreme situations. But to me, the weather event we just experienced qualifies as an extreme situation that should have warranted an extreme response. The weather event was so extreme it is probably something we will only see once in our lifetimes.

That's how China works, not the United States of America. You should move to China.
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 2:35 pm 
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xrp wrote:
That's how China works, not the United States of America. You should move to China.

It's not unprecedented to close areas for fire danger. National Forests in Washington have been closed several times.
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texasbb
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 3:16 pm 
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Schroder wrote:
xrp wrote:
That's how China works, not the United States of America. You should move to China.

It's not unprecedented to close areas for fire danger. National Forests in Washington have been closed several times.

Closing forests was not the suggestion above.
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altasnob
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 4:08 pm 
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I should amend my suggestion. An outright stay at home order, across the board, is likely not justified no matter how extreme the fire danger. My general question was why not close National Forests, National Parks, DNR land, and other publicly owned forested land preemptively in remarkably extreme fire danger days like we just experienced? Power companies are allowed to shut down power preemptively. National Forest are generally closed after there is a fire there, not before. Just an open ended question. No right or wrong answer to this.
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xrp
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 4:41 pm 
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xrp
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 5:01 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
I should amend my suggestion. An outright stay at home order, across the board, is likely not justified no matter how extreme the fire danger. My general question was why not close National Forests, National Parks, DNR land, and other publicly owned forested land preemptively in remarkably extreme fire danger days like we just experienced? Power companies are allowed to shut down power preemptively. National Forest are generally closed after there is a fire there, not before. Just an open ended question. No right or wrong answer to this.

Several challenges:

1) How do you get the message out?  [removed by moderator]

2) So many different government agencies to have to coordinate. US Dept Agriculture, Dept Interior, State government, etc. Big patchwork of mess. This is why I am a proponent of ending federal ownership of states and returning control of that land to the respective states.

3) How do you enforce this?

4) What about the thousands or tens of thousands of people already out there or on their way out there? How can resources really get the message to all of them?

Also, one of the now major fires in Oregon’s central Cascades had been burning near Mt Jefferson for at least 10 days. I had been watching it on one of the air quality websites when trying to decide whether or not to go to Three Sisters Wilderness over Labor Day weekend. Was this fire ignored, only to become a 100,000+ acre behemoth when the winds struck?
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schifferj
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 5:05 pm 
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I was a professional fire fighter for 25 years. I saw many, many human caused fires where the source was a downed power line due to wind, an arcing transformer, etc. So while "human caused these were not malicious/careless in nature. A tree falls across a power line and you oft times have a fire.

Coincidentally we had a "little" fire over in the Spokane area that was caused by a bird striking a power line.

It would be interesting to know how many of those 68 fires were caused by man generated electricity.
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gb
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 5:39 pm 
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schifferj wrote:
I was a professional fire fighter for 25 years. I saw many, many human caused fires where the source was a downed power line due to wind, an arcing transformer, etc. So while "human caused these were not malicious/careless in nature. A tree falls across a power line and you oft times have a fire.

Coincidentally we had a "little" fire over in the Spokane area that was caused by a bird striking a power line.

It would be interesting to know how many of those 68 fires were caused by man generated electricity.

Again an outlier. What about the Talent, Oregon Fire or the Sumner Fire? Or the large Washington fires (Cold Springs and Palmer)? Or the Evans Creek Fire? I think you have been misled by the widely publicized California Fire last year that was ignited by a power line.

In any case (you can look up statistics and accounts on Inciweb) we need to do something about fires that are preventable and react quickly to fire starts in dry conditions as quickly as we can - the cost of these fires in human lives, fire fighting, property damage and resource damage is huge. Even the air quality health cost of recent fires and those a couple of years ago that plagued Eastern Washington and Western Washington for a period are likely huge and largely undocumented.
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Malachai Constant
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 6:14 pm 
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If it dry enough, hot enough, Fuel enough, And low enough humidity, Sooner or later there will be a fire. The spark eventually becomes irrelevant be it a power line, lightning, hot exhaust, grinding rails, pop bottle lens, gender reveal, cigarette, campfire, arson, or aliens. As Emily Latella used to say, “If it is not one thing it is another”.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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jinx'sboy
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 6:31 pm 
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gb wrote:
Again an outlier.

As a firefighter for over 40 years - I can confirm what schifferj said.   

Just a few quick examples, I can think of;

2020 - Davenport fire was a power line, brought down by equipment being moved on a trailer.
2015 - Twisp River that killed 3 firefighters and burned 10-15 homes - Electric lines
1991 - Almost all the Spokane area fires which burned in late October ‘firestorm’ were downed electric lines.

It is not just common....it is VERY common; Car hit power pole. Trees fall over power line. Limbs are blown into power line.  Old pole rots at ground level and falls over....and on and on.  Even rain falling onto dust on power lines, power poles and transformers - after a long dry spell - provides a conduit to ground and has started numerous fires.  I helped put one out just outside the Ranger Station in Twisp.

Also ‘east winds’ are not confined to Southern California, nor are they ‘unprecedented’.

They were/are common thru most of Oregon, and into SW WA.  Google ‘Chetco winds’ near Brookings/Gold Beach.  As others have noted, these ‘foehn’ winds often blew prescription slash fires out of control back in the heyday of logging.  Yes, these winds are more typical later in the fall.   But, for instance, they were the main cause of the 1987 fires that  burned in So Oregon and No California; those started Labor day weekend that year and were still burning at Thanksgiving.  I spent 7 weeks in Gold Beach and Grants Pass on fires that autumn.  Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acres burned and over 1000 active duty military (NOT just Nat’l guard or reserves) were deployed.
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Logbear
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 11:13 pm 
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I should amend my suggestion. An outright stay at home order, across the board, is likely not justified no matter how extreme the fire danger. My general question was why not close National Forests, National Parks, DNR land, and other publicly owned forested land preemptively in remarkably extreme fire danger days like we just experienced? Power companies are allowed to shut down power preemptively. National Forest are generally closed after there is a fire there, not before. Just an open ended question. No right or wrong answer to this.

This is what they did in California.  The USFS order forced the closure of businesses that are on USFS leased land.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd800380.pdf

https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/californias-national-forests-temporarily-close-due-to-wildfires-hunters-and-recreational-users-are-urged-to-stay-away/
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zimmertr
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PostMon Sep 14, 2020 1:30 am 
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treeswarper wrote:
read most of a book about the Peninsula area in the 1860s

What book is this?
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treeswarper
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PostMon Sep 14, 2020 5:44 am 
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altasnob wrote:
I should amend my suggestion. An outright stay at home order, across the board, is likely not justified no matter how extreme the fire danger. My general question was why not close National Forests, National Parks, DNR land, and other publicly owned forested land preemptively in remarkably extreme fire danger days like we just experienced? Power companies are allowed to shut down power preemptively. National Forest are generally closed after there is a fire there, not before. Just an open ended question. No right or wrong answer to this.

I am surprised that you suggest this after what you wrote about the Cushman Lake closure.

Forests can be closed but there would not be enough employees to sit at the roads.  We're talking about a huge area, with many roads for access, and a population that thinks such rules are for everybody else.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz says.
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