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Wildfire Dangers in Western Washington

It always rains in Seattle, except in July, August and September.

This past week in all of Western Washington there has been a Red Flag Warning posted for areas west of the Cascade Mountains. This is the result of hot and dry conditions that have dominated the months of July and August, now extending into September.

This is wildfire season in Western Washington. The dangers really ratchet up when the winds come from the east through the mountain passes, bringing even more hot and dry air to the region. There are several fires burning already in the mountains here in Washington state.

While people think it rains here all the time — which it can seem to do, October through June — we are now waiting for fall rains to come to lower the fire danger. Most Washingtonians don’t recognize this danger since they live in urban areas. However, even these can have an “urban forest” look to them with many areas with homes planted in what were forested areas, or the trees that were planted have now matured, providing shade and danger.

The rains can’t come soon enough!
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.