Eagle Creek Fire restoration could be slowed by wind

The windiest locations are forecasted to be along the Old Columbia River Highway

Wind blows in the Gorge, December 6 2017. (KOIN)

CORBETT, Ore. (KOIN) – The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a High Wind Watch, which went into affect late Tuesday through Thursday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service, this is expected to be the strongest east wind event so far this season. There is a high likelihood that some trees that were damaged or killed during the Eagle Creek Fire will be knocked down by the strong winds, making it hazardous to perform restoration work.

The forecast is calling for sustained winds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or stronger may occur in the western Columbia River Gorge including Corbett, Rooster Rock, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks Bonneville and Stevenson.

Bobby Corser with the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society was at Vista House gauging the wind speed.

“It’s fun to come out and just see how truly strong the weather is,” Corser said. “The air compresses, funnels in, and explodes out and this is the windiest spot with these types of events.”

The windiest locations are forecasted to be along the Old Columbia River Highway, including Crown Point. They may experience gusts of 80 to 90 mph. NWS is warning that travel will be difficult along the Interstate 84 and Highway 14 corridors, especially for high profile vehicles.

ODOT officials said they’re concerned about high winds throughout the region.

“When trees blow down, there is a potential that the tree will trigger a slide — sometimes big or small,” Kimberly Dinwiddie said. “This can happen on any slope in the area. However, the slopes along the burn area are at risk due to the fire damage that burned up vegetation the helps anchor the soils along slopes.”

Rachel Pawlitz with the U.S. Forest Service also told KOIN 6 News they’re concerned about the high winds in the Gorge.

KOIN reporters Trevor Ault, Brent Weisberg and Cole Miller contributed to this report.