Lightning in forecast: 'Greater than usual likelihood of significant fire'

EUGENE, Ore. - Weather forecasters predict lighting will hit the southern Oregon Cascades and southeast Oregon late Tuesday into Wednesday as above normal fire potential grips the region.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning Tuesday for much of southern Oregon from the Cascades east to Idaho, as well as for northeastern California.

"Hot and dry conditions coupled with a low pressure impulse moving through late this afternoon through Wednesday is expected to result in a significant amount of lightning across the area," forecasters said. "This lightning is expected to occur with little or no rainfall through this evening. On Wednesday storms are likely to become increasingly wet."

The Red Flag warning - an indication that the potential exists for wildfires to ignite and radily spread - is in effect from 5 p.m. Tuesday through 11 p.m. Wednesday.

The warning coincided with the release July 1 of the monthly wildland fire potential outlook issued by the National Interagency Fire Center, headquartered in Boise, Idaho.

"Above normal fire potential will persist over much of California, the Northwest and the Great Basin," forecasters wrote. "Fuels across most of the western U.S. have been drier than usual through much of the spring.

"Moving into July and August, the fuels and drought conditions across the West point to a condition that would support a greater than usual likelihood of significant fire."

Fire danger isn't forecast to return to normal until October.