POLK COUNTY -- How hot was it during Polk County's two-day heat wave? Record hot. And surprisingly dry.
Monday, the temperature was 108.1 degrees at 4:56 p.m. at the Emerson Vineyards weather station in Monmouth.
Independence hit 100.9, while Dallas and West Salem reached an even 102.
The previous record high for June 26 in Polk County was 97 degrees in 1987.
There was no relief anywhere in the Willamette Valley on Monday. Salem recorded 105.6 and Amity 108.7. Albany got to 109.4 late in the day (7:01 p.m.), and even that wasn't the highest temperature. That honor went to Corvallis, which hit 110.2 at 5:07 p.m.
On Sunday, Monmouth sweltered at 103.1 at 3 p.m., Independence hit 102.7 and Dallas and West Salem reached 100.2.
The old record for June 25 was 99 degrees in 1925. That was measured at McNary Field, the only reliable weather station in the area at the time.
It could have felt much worse than it did Sunday and Monday. The humidity during the hottest part of the days was only 18 percent, making it an almost desert-like "dry heat." For comparison, the temperature in Tucson, Ariz., at 4 p.m. Monday was 100 with humidity of 14 percent.
The Itemizer-Observer uses weatherunderground.com statistics in its weekly table (see Page 6A), because that service has automated weather stations at various locations in the region. It measures the Monmouth area from Emerson Vineyards, and Dallas and West Salem from a station in the West Salem hills. Other local sites are in South Salem near the Independence Bridge, and in the Eola Hills near Amity.
More weather information is available at www.itemizerobserver.com.
Dry forests pose danger
The Oregon Department of Forestry announced this week that its West Oregon, South Cascade and Western Lane districts will begin fire season on Monday, June 26. The three districts encompasses forest lands in Polk, Yamhill, Benton, Linn and Lane counties.
Predicted hot, dry weather is expected to dehydrate the forests and elevate the risk of wildfires, according to Western Lane District Forester Rick Rogers.
"We're starting to have east winds," Rogers said, "and coupled with the forecast of low humidities and high temperatures, we could soon see explosive fire conditions."
The advent of fire season places restrictions on timber harvest activities in the forest. Loggers will be required to have firefighting equipment at their operation sites.
While no restrictions are being placed on recreational activity yet, the public is asked to be mindful of fire safety in the forest. In particular, use of campfires and fireworks can result in devastating financial liability if a wildfire results.
The Department of Forestry reminds the public that those who start a fire with fireworks will be held responsible for the value of all timber damaged or destroyed, as well as the entire cost of putting out the fire.
In Polk and Marion counties, backyard burning is also prohibited until further notice.