Washington Fire Destroys Dozens of Structures; Evacuations Ordered
Between 24 and 28 structures, mostly homes on the north side of Wenatchee, has been destroyed, according to Chelan County authorities on Monday morning. Three hundred firefighters were working to contain the blaze, which nearly doubled in size on Sunday night after first developing earlier in the day.
Courtesy of Chelan County (where Wenatchee is) Emergency Management, here is an up-to-date list of evacuations and road closures.
As of Monday afternoon, the fire was zero percent contained, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
Exceptionally hot and dry conditions are being blamed for creating the fire, which started early Sunday afternoon and was reported in at 2:16 PDT on Sunday, according to the Wenatchee World. Temperatures in Wenatchee rocketed up to 109° on Sunday afternoon – a full 27° above the average high of 82° – coupled with dew points stuck in the 30s and 40s for much of the weekend, leading to unusually dry conditions. The dew point, simply, is a measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, and the lower the dew point, particularly in reference to the actual air temperature, the lower the amount of moisture.
Persistent drought conditions contributed to the fire as well, with a moderate drought in place across the region, according to the United States Drought Monitor. So far in 2015, Wenatchee has received 3.69″ of rain (through Sunday), a deficit of 0.53″ from its typical year-to-date amount of 4.22″.
The forecast calls for continued hot and dry conditions in the city of about 30,000 people, with temperatures dipping into the 90s for much of the week (still significantly above seasonal averages) under sunny skies. Temperatures could again approach 100° by the end of the work week, a forecast that won’t assist firefighters in their efforts to control the blaze.
Stay with WeatherNation for all the latest on the fire and the continued heat and drought in the West.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi