Tuesday, July 16, 2024

National Weather Service issues fire weather alerts

Staff Writer | July 9, 2024 1:35 AM

MOSES LAKE — Hot weather and windy conditions will lead to an increased potential for wildfires at least through Thursday, according to information from the National Weather Service on Monday. 

Charlotte Dewey, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Spokane, said in a Monday briefing that temperatures through Wednesday are expected to be about 20 degrees above normal for this time of year. Moses Lake, Wenatchee and Ritzville all are forecast to break records for high temperatures today and Wednesday.

“We’re expecting (hot weather) to continue through midweek before we do expect some level of cooling. Not very much, but there will be a little bit of cooling,” Dewey said.

Temperatures in the Columbia Basin are expected to drop into the high 90s Thursday and Friday before increasing back to 100 degrees or more over the weekend. 

“With this also comes critical fire weather conditions,” she said. 

Windy conditions are in the forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday in the Columbia Basin.

The ridge of high pressure that is contributing to the hot weather is projected to start moving further east by late Wednesday and Thursday, kicking up winds in its wake. For Moses Lake, winds are forecast to be blowing 10 to 15 miles per hour late Wednesday, with gusts 25 to 35 miles per hour.

“Wednesday and Thursday we’re starting to see these sustained wind speeds greater than 20 miles an hour across the Columbia Basin,” she said. “The winds do back off a little bit Friday (and) Saturday.”

It will remain very dry, with 5-15% humidity Wednesday.

“We’re starting to see these conditions that are conducive to the elevated fire weather pattern,” she said. 

The fire weather watch is projected to extend from the Okanogan Valley to the Washington-Oregon border. 

“The fuels this time of year (are) more cured and ready to go,” she said. 

Grant County has an outdoor burn ban in effect, but people should also pay attention to other activities that can start a fire in very dry conditions, she said. Loose towing chains can throw sparks if they drag along the road surface, and a car or truck exhaust system can start a fire if it’s driven over dry grass.