Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Predicting potential hazards after Eagle Creek fire

OREGON — Wildfires can burn through organic materials in soils, releasing waxy substances that coat soil particles. This process basically “shrink-wraps” the soil giving it a water repellent property. Eagle Creek Fire burned through vegetation on slopes in several Columbia River Gorge watersheds, which further destabilized soil and rocks and made them more susceptible to erosion or sliding during heavy rains. The Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response team recently identified Tanner Creek as one of the most badly burned watersheds in the Eagle Creek Fire area; which places the area at an increased risk of flash floods, landslides, and debris flow.

On Oct. 31, a team from NOAA National Weather Service installed a portable version of a system known as a Remote Automated Weather Station within Tanner Creek drainage to help predict potential hazards. The station will measure temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed and rainfall – enhancing the ability of the National Weather Service Office in Portland, Oregon to issue forecasts, watches and warnings for local communities and the I-84 travel corridor.

Data from the station is available to the public at MesoWest a system supported by the National Weather Service and hosted by University of Utah, Department of Atmospheric Sciences. The station name is NRAWS 4 (Tanner) and its ID is TARO3.

More information on the Eagle Creek Fire response efforts click here.

Tanner Creek Drainage. Forest Service photo by Alexa Pengelly.

Joe Hannon and Bill Schneider with the National Weather Service, Portland, Ore. set up a remote weather station in the Columbia Gorge National scenic area. Forest Service photo by Alexa Pengelly.