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High Temperatures and Unseasonably Dry Conditions Have Portland Under an Increased Risk for Wildfires, National Weather Service Warns

Humidity levels are particularly low at the moment, exacerbating the risk of fire spread.

One person’s unseasonably nice weather is another observer’s fire conditions.

With temperatures in Portland reaching the 80s this weekend, the National Weather Service has issued a statement encouraging residents to be extra mindful about avoiding any activities that could ignite wildfires.

“It’s not an advisory or a warning or watch,” says Rebecca Muessle, a meteorologist with the Portland branch of the NWS. “We’re just letting you know this is happening, and it’s something to be aware of.”

While it’s not unusual for Portland to see a stretch of warm weather in the midst of an otherwise chilly spring, the region has also experienced an abnormally dry spring. Humidity levels are particularly low at the moment, increasing the risk of fire spread.

“It’s not necessarily that it’s been warm. It’s that it is warm, windy and dry,” Muessle says. “Those are the three factors we look at with fire weather, and all three are at play.”

Of course, it was a combination of hot, dry conditions and strong winds that helped cause last summer’s historically devastating wildfires. But Muessle cautions that while the current pattern bears some resemblance to that which preceded 2020′s fires, the offshore winds expected later this week won’t be nearly as extreme.

The NWS advises residents to consult local officials about burn bans and to avoid any activities that could inadvertently cause fires to get out of control, such as burning yard debris.

Related: Oregon’s Indigenous Communities Know How to Stop Megafires. Will the State Let Them?