80% of wildfires are human-caused
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --Oregon State University held an online wildfire and drought forum Monday on what Oregonians can expect as this fire season hits full swing.
Oregon State Climatologist Larry O'Neill described how the current drought could make it a tough summer for us.
O’Neill said mountain snowpack is basically "melted," meaning there is no major precipitation event that will likely change how dry the region is.
"Prineville (Reservoir) is projected empty. Wickiup (Reservoir) will be projected empty. There will be no carry-over in Eastern Oregon reservoirs going into the next water year, so things are looking a little bit bleak," said O’Neill.
Other experts said the duration of fire season on the West Coast has been starting earlier due to lower humidity in the region.
"Where there's an effort to suppress fires, that decrease in humidity, especially overnight, makes fires more difficult to suppress," said Erica Fleishman, the director of Oregon Climate Change Research.
The main hazard of fire season is not the dry weather or thunderstorms, but people, as experts say 80% of wildfires are human-caused.
"So while we can't do a whole lot about the drought conditions we're facing right now , we can do a whole lot about the ignition sources," said Lisa Ellsworth, an assistant professor with OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Fleishman explained the different ways that people cause fires.
"That doesn't mean necessarily someone being careless or someone being malicious. But it can mean power lines going down, just the fact that where there are humans and there are humans doing things and there's human infrastructure, there will be sparks," she said.
Experts urge you to get ready and prepare for the wildfire season, as many areas of Central Oregon are at their driest, or second-driest conditions ever recorded.