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Drought setting records

July-August-September stretch second dryest on record for Mac

McMinnville has had only one drier summer in the last 120 years – in 1994.

In a year notable for a massive, crop-destroying drought in the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest is now setting records of its own for lack of rainfall. In fact, Portland, Salem, Vancouver and Hillsboro just had their driest summer ever.

McMinnville has gotten .15 inch since the beginning of July. Portland has .25, Salem .11.

But according to National Weather Service records, McMinnville received only .03 during the summer of 1994, the least since recordkeeping began in 1894. Normal for the three-month span is 2.32 inches.

It’s typically dry in July, August and September, but not this dry. And by Oct. 1, rain generally begins to fall in earnest.

This year, according to meteorologist Liana Ramirez, a series of high-pressure ridges enveloped the region for three solid months, diverting storm systems north into Canada and Alaska. The dry weather has been accompanied by warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, she noted.

There’s no rain in the forecast, either, for at least the next week. That led to issuance of a red flag warning for extreme fire danger for Wednesday morning through Thursday evening in an area stretching from southwestern Washington all the way south to Oakridge and east to Hood River.

The Oregon Department of Forestry released a reminder to those enjoying a prolonged summer recreation season: “Proceed with extreme caution when working in or enjoying the outdoors.”

“We continue to discover and extinguish illegal campfires in several remote areas,” said ODF Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “In one case, our crews found an escaped campfire left by a hunter two miles from any road.”

Fields said a different fire spread from its confines and burned more than two acres, costing more than $4,000 to suppress. Persons responsible for illegal campfires will be cited and held liable for fire suppression costs, the release noted.

Fire season will remain in effect until significant precipitation occurs where the threat of a fire starting is minimal.
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Drought setting records

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