By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The mild weather many are enjoying has its downsides.
Snowpack and precipitation are below normal which doesn’t bode well for stream flows this summer for farming or fish.
An escaped field burn in Redmond this morning is another indication that things are drying out earlier than normal.
A landowner in northwest Redmond said the wind was calm when he started his burn Thursday morning, but the wind kicked up and the fire took off, threatening neighboring homes and structures.
Two Redmond Fire engines and a water tender responded to combat the fire that burned trees on a neighbor’s property and threatened a home, garage and a dog kennel. Quick work by neighbors and firefighters limited the damage to scorched fence posts and frayed nerves.
“Throughout the last few weeks our weather’s been unseasonably dry,” said Redmond Fire and Rescue Capt. Josh Clark. “We’ve had quite a few escaped field burns. Be mindful of the conditions when you start burning.”
The mild spring weather that some people are raving about could mean trouble for those who rely on summer water supplies.
“In the upper Deschutes and Crooked River basins, it’s looking generally below normal and in some cases well below normal water supply,” said Scott Oviatt, Oregon Snow Survey supervisor. “This is due to the limited snowpack that we are seeing here in March, as well as the water year precipitation. Values are generally going to look in the 50 to 70% range of average.
As of today, snowpack in our area is 82% of normal. Total precipitation, both rain and snow since October 1st, is 73% of normal. All this means vegetation at lower elevations – where people live and farm – is drying out … setting the stage for more out of control burns.