DISCUSSION: As the southeast United States prepares for a historic hurricane, the western half of the country has been facing their own problems. Particularly in the Pacific Northwest, wildfires have been raging for the past several days, even prompting the governor of Washington to declare a state of emergency. Logan Johnson from the National Weather Service in Seattle says quite ominously, “If you look outside, you might think it’s just clouds.” In most places the air smells of burned wood and the skies have turned a disorienting color of brownish orange. Neither Seattle, Washington nor Portland, Oregon has received any significant precipitation in at least 50 days.
In a region known for rain, an unusually dry summer has provided conditions exclusive for wildfires to flourish. A strong ridge of high pressure has settled over the majority of the Pacific Northwest. This has heated the air and prevented storms from entering the area. As a result, places in northern California have experienced record-breaking heat. Trees, grass, and other foliage have dried out, meaning if one small spark occurs then the entire area can quickly be set ablaze.
Although precipitation has been absent, winds are still very strong. One of the main concerns now from the fires is ash and smoke, leading to air quality alerts issued in parts of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and California. Click here to see the locations of current wildfires in the United States.
Click here to see satellite images of the wildfires.
The video is taken northbound 210 Freeway in the La Tuna Canyon. This is the largest fire in Los Angeles history.
To learn more about high-impact weather events occurring across North America, be sure to visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri