A team from NOAA National Weather Service installed a new weather station this week in the Tanner Creek watershed, within the Eagle Creek Fire Burned Area, to help improve their forecasting of potential hazards in the event of severe weather.
The weather station, a portable version of a system known as a Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS), was placed in Tanner Creek drainage to measure rainfall and help predict hazards resulting from the Eagle Creek Fire.
Wildfires can burn through organic materials in soils, releasing waxy substances that coat soil particles—basically “shrink-wrapping” the soil and giving it a water repellent property. Eagle Creek Fire burned through vegetation on slopes in several Gorge watersheds, which further destabilized soil and rocks and made them more susceptible to erosion or sliding during heavy rains. These factors lead to increased risks of flash floods, landslides, and debris flows. Tanner Creek was identified by the recent Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team as one of the most badly burned watersheds, where risks of these hazards could be increased.
RAWS systems like the one installed at Tanner Creek are portable versions of similar more permanent systems that are used by National Weather Service forecasters, U.S. Forest Service and other land management agencies in remote locations during and after wildfires, to enhance forecasting. The Tanner Creek station will measure temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed and rainfall – enhancing the ability of the National Weather Service Forest Office in Portland, Oregon to issue forecasts, watches and warnings for communities and the I-84 travel corridor.