A series of thunderstorms moved through southwest Oregon and northwest California on September 6th and 7th bringing cooler temperatures, relief from smoke, intermittent rain, and unfortunately lightning. What effect the storms had on the Chetco Bar fire we can’t assess but here’s some good news from the September 8th 9:00 a.m. Chetco Bar fire update:
Where it occurred, rainfall and high humidity levels greatly reduced fire activity and growth yesterday and overnight.
On the east side of the Chetco Bar fire, the rain was more abundant with the 9:00 a.m. update reporting wet weather and often numerous and intense showers, with some areas receiving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of precipitation and in some places even a full inch.
Because the Kalmiopsis – Wild Rivers Coast region is where we live (and before these general reports were available from Inciweb) we checked the 24 hour precipitation totals yesterday evening. using NOAA’s Hazards and Weather Viewer. Here’s what we found as of September 7th at 6:00 p.m.:
Starting in the north, the tiny community of Agness—inland from Gold Beach on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, received a nice .41 inches. Agness is roughly 12 miles from the north end of the Chetco Bar fire—burning on South Bend Mountain—on the north side of the Wild and Scenic Illinois River.
Snow Camp Mountain, on the northwest corner of the fire perimeter, and about 13 miles from the coast, got only .07 inches. Gold Beach and Brooking, on the immediate coast, received .01 and .18 inches, respectively.. The weather station at Red Mound (north and east of Brookings) registered .19 inches.
Quail Prairie Mountain on the western edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderenss received .12 inches of rain but the exceptionally steep rugged area north of Chetco Bar on the Wild and Scenic Chetco River and in the heart of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness—where fire was first detected on July 12th—got a nice .54 inched of rain.
It’s not unusual for intrepid boaters who run this wildest of rivers to go to bed with a clear starry sky overhead, only to wake to rain part way through the night after reaching this part of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
While the stark, rocky serpentine terrain that makes up a good bit of the Kalmiopsis may look look more like it belongs in a desert, annual precipitation for the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and it’s large adjacent Roadless Areas (the North and South Kalmiopsis) can receive 80 to 150 inches of precipitation annually.
The Illinois Valley Airport, near the confluence of Rough and Ready Creek with the West Fork Illinois River—south and east of the active fire—recorded a whooping .83 inches of rain in the 24 hour period. The Rough and Ready Creek watershed and this part of the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area and Kalmiopsis Wilderness are the most dramatic expression of the stark, open serpentine lands of the Josephine ophiolite.
There were also reports of hard rain in Cave Junction but Selma, a little further north, and an area on the Kalmiopsis Rim near Babyfoot lake only got .14 each.
Finally, Packsaddle Mountain, about 9 miles southeast of Mount Emily and a little more than 2 miles north of the Oregon/California border in Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River watershed, received a welcome .43 inches, with Gasquet at the confluence of the North Fork Smith with the Middle Fork Smith River in California topping it with .52 inches.
NOAA is predicting a warming and drying trend until the middle of next week when there’s a slight chance of showers. Think rain.