Synthesis : Scott Becker

Weekend Update 9/13/2020

This has been a rough week.

Fires – A rare weather event in Oregon combined dry conditions, heat, and very strong winds to become a perfect storm. This fueled explosive growth to wild fires brewing throughout the state, both natural and human caused. More than a million acres burned in a single week. More than double the previous record for the entire year. The fires grew shockingly fast. Conspiracy theories abound, but whatever the original cause of each of the fires, wind is why they grew so huge. The wind began to subside on Wednesday, allowing humanity to regain something resembling control over the situation. The fires caused immense devastation, took lives and livelihoods, and completely destroyed many smaller towns like Gates, Phoenix and Talent. It came within a half mile of Estacada and other larger towns very close to Portland and Salem. As of this moment, the march towards Oregon’s major population centers in the north west part of the state appears to have stopped, thanks to the milder weather. I’m really hoping for rain. If the forecast holds, we may get a bit as soon as Tuesday.

Bad Air Quality – After the fire came the smoke. Around Wednesday the air quality started getting bad, and by this weekend it was downright hazardous (AQI – Air Quality Index – readings of around 450-500 in Portland – current worst in the world). The visibility is low and the sky has been a grayish orange. This morning it was just gray and fog-like, but so thick we could barely see the house across the street.

Stuck Indoors – As of this moment on Sunday afternoon, because of the bad air, we’ve remained almost 100% indoors since Thursday, or 4 straight days. I’m anxiously awaiting a dip in the AQI readings so we can get out of the house. Some of our friends opted to drive to the coast today or book a hotel. We were tempted, but we are lucky to have two air purifiers in the house, and they’re running 24/7. I think staying here where we have all of our personal creature comforts is the best option for us right now.

It feels strange to write like this. These weekend review posts are usually much more mundane musings on my personal life, family, and work. This week we have been living through a literal firestorm.

We are some of the lucky ones – we are all alive and healthy. Our house, our neighborhood, and our city is still standing. For all of that I’m grateful, and I can live with being stuck inside for a bit. We’ll get through it.


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