During the early morning hours of Nov. 5, a major windstorm with wind gusts as strong as 77 mph at the Eastern Oregon Airport damaged many buildings and trees with downed power lines that contributed to structure fires.

Umatilla and Morrow counties were hit particularly hard by this event. Although damaging windstorms are not uncommon in November over the Lower Columbia Basin and the foothills of the Blue Mountains, it is rare to have winds exceeding 70 mph. I empathize with those who faced a traumatic experience watching downed power lines burn their property here in Pendleton that morning.

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Mary Wister is a meteorologist and fire weather program manager at the National Weather Service in Pendleton. Wister serves as an incident meteorologist when large wildfires or other natural hazards necessitate an incident management team’s quick response to protect life and property.

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