You’ve probably seen on the news that we are having terrible fires in Oregon. Some of them very near Portland. I’ve had several friends who have had to evacuate their homes and some had to leave livestock behind because the evacuation orders came up so quickly. Luckily, they have since been able to get back in to get their animals to safe locations and have been able to check on their homes.
Entire towns have been burned and they’re just starting to be able to put numbers together on dead and missing people.
So far, the fires have avoided my friends’ homes and properties. They’re very fortunate, but they’re not out of danger yet.
I have a lot of people asking if I’m safe. Here’s a map of the evacuation orders in the Portland area. I’ve marked my house with the blue X.
There’s a lot more distance between me and the evacuation zones than this map would lead you to believe. I’m safe now, but am watching the situation closely and am making preparations to evacuate in case it comes to that.
On this map, the green area is evacuation level 1: make preparations to leave. Yellow is level 2: be ready to leave at any time. Red is level 3, which means get out now. I’m not even at level 1 yet. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll have to evacuate, but I want to be ready in case it becomes necessary. There is a lot of city between me and the red zone.
I can’t tell you how frightening and stressful this is. It all started earlier this week with terrible dry wind storms that came in from the east. There were predictions that these winds had the potential to cause serious fire situations, and they didn’t disappoint. The wind started early this week and continued for two days. I’ve never been so glad to see wind die down as I was with this storm. The storm brought down branches and full trees and a lot of people have had power outages to deal with. I didn’t lose power, and only had some branches come down. There were were trees down in my neighborhood.
And now, several days later, the winds have shifted to coming out of the west, which means they’re coming off the Pacific Ocean… which means cooler and moister air. They are also very light winds. This is all very good news for fire fighting. We’re even expecting some rain next week. It won’t be enough to put out the fires, but will be a positive for fighting the fires. It’s likely these fires will burn for months, but some favorable weather will help them get them contained and under control. Our rainy season should start in about a month and typically continues into May or June.
Right now, the thing affecting most of the area is choking smoke. Initially, the winds took all the smoke across the Portland metro area and out over the Pacific Ocean. Now that the winds are coming from the west, all that smoke is coming right back over us… and is spreading out across the western US. Our air quality is the worst on the planet right now. My eyes and lungs are burning, and my head hurts. There’s just no way to get away from it.
Here’s a link to an interactive satellite map that shows you the fires and the smoke movement. You can change the time of the photo in the upper left. It’s interesting to see how the winds and smoke have changed over the days. The smoke stretched out 1,000 miles out into the Pacific!
I was walking the dogs in the afternoon several days ago when I noticed the first smoke from the fires coming into view to the south.
This is the view from our evening walk that same day.
Even with all that smoke it was a couple days before I could really smell much smoke. But the smell came in yesterday morning with a really acrid smell. In late morning, more smoke rolled in and the strong smell of wood smoke was everywhere.
That evening it was almost pitch dark by 6 pm. Here’s a picture looking across the street to my neighbor’s house. Her automatic lights came on two hours before sunset, and the street lights all came on too.
Here’s a view from my back yard, looking west at around the same time the previous night. We didn’t see the sun today.
I was hoping to be able to take a short drive this weekend to find some clean air and get out for a nice walk, but it looks like I’d have to drive for five hours to get to clean air. So we’ll have to find other ways to get some exercise in the house. They were saying on the news just now that all this stress makes your body produce stress hormones, and the best way to get them out of your system is exercise. We all need some exercise. Today was the first time since February that we haven’t taken a walk. But it’s just too unsafe to breathe that horrible smoke.
That picture is looking north from my house yesterday. And the smoke was worse today. The neighborhood is deserted. No one is walking. Very few cars go by. It’s very eerie. There is usually a constant stream of walkers and dogs going by.
These poor kids need some activity. Please keep us all in your thoughts for safety from the fires and relief from the smoke.