Temperatures are forecast to climb to about 90 degrees on Thursday and Friday from the Coast Range to the foothills of the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.
The early May heat wave has local officials concerned about yard debris burns getting out of control due to the dry conditions, the safety of residents looking to cool off on waterways, and the possibility of heat-related illnesses.
“It wasn’t that long ago that we had snow on the ground. Our bodies aren’t used to it, and you can get heat exhaustion or heat stroke very easily in that change period. So be careful with that. Drink lots of fluids and try to limit your time in the sun,” said Monroe Fire Chief Rick Smith.
Tammy Robbins, Jefferson Fire District spokeswoman, said that though the weather will be hot, the temperature of local rivers remains shockingly cold, and the water is running high and swift.
People could get hypothermia very quickly, said Sweet Home Fire Chief Dave Barringer.
With April’s floods, there could be even more of a risk for boaters, kayakers and innertubers due to debris, including snags hidden under the water, fire officials said.
Smith said rivers have changed due to the high water. “There’s debris in spots that’s normally clear, and larger debris,” he said.
“There are a lot of what we call strainers,” Barringer said. “They’re things that people can get hung up on the water, and those are quite dangerous,” he said.
Robbins urged residents to wear life jackets on waterways such as the Santiam River, and said people can request life jackets from the Jefferson Fire District.
“If you go out rafting and see something, let us know too,” Robbins said.
Smith said that due to the recent weather, residents need to use extreme caution if they’re burning yard debris.
Duff and debris on the ground from last year is extremely dry, and fires can spread into that material, he said.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has responded to about 10 escaped debris burns in the last two weeks.
“Historically, this time of year, we don’t have an issue with ground fires and things like that, but this year, it’s a different case. We’ve already had some interesting ground fires,” Smith said.
Robbins and Barringer agreed that there’s a higher potential for fires this spring.
“Normally this time of year things are so wet and it’s rained so much. People tend to be overconfident in their burn situations, and the fine fuels have dried out already,” Barringer said.
He added that local fire agencies and the Oregon Department of Forestry have discussed starting fire season earlier than normal this year.
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Besides the warm weather this week, the National Weather Service predictions includes winds that could potentially spread fires.
Here’s a detailed look at the agency’s forecast for the next few days.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 79 degrees. Calm wind of 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 88 degrees. Northeast wind of 6 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 89 degrees.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 86 degrees.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 76 degrees. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 84 degrees. East northeast wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 87 degrees.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 85 degrees.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 78 degrees. Calm wind becoming north around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 89 degrees. Northeast wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 91 degrees.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 84 degrees.