Air quality alerts lift Monday as cooler, clearer air arrives


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It sure feels nice to be able to see the full blue sky that the summer afternoon has to offer us today.

It was hazy and smoky through our heat wave, which is finally breaking Monday, and that veil of wildfire smoke that was trapped because of the high pressure is clearing out even more.

There is nothing better than a deep clean. We won’t have much rain around in the next 24 hours, but we sure are going to have our fair share of cool and clean air moving in from the northwest. There is still a lot of wildfire smoke out there, but most of that pesky smoke is being transported to the east. The visible satellite is painting the Great Plains with wildfire smoke this afternoon. There is a lot of smoke to the north in areas of Canada too.

If you really focus your attention to the loop in Oregon, you can even see the smoke plumes of our local wildfires in the Cascades. They’re still burning, and there is still going to be wildfire smoke regardless of our improving conditions. Again, that smoke that is out there is going to stay east of the valley and those closer to the actual wildfires will have smoke in the forecast.

With air quality issues all weekend, it is safe to say that we will have a better situation in the coming 24 hours. We have mainly green levels, which are good levels, through the Willamette Valley and up into the Lower Columbia Basin in Oregon (The Dalles over to Pendleton). We still have some vulnerable spots today, as you can see that the air quality around Bend and Sunriver are still at an unhealthy level; however, this could improve tonight into Tuesday.

There are also some clear signs of changes coming in from the northwest if you focus back on the satellite loop above. True cloud coverage from an area of low pressure that is dropping in from the north today. The general flow is coming in from the northwest. There are clouds packed along the Oregon coast today too. They are chipping away a bit this afternoon, but most locations feeling cloudy (slideshow of images from this afternoon below).

Cycle through the images below and you can see the different conditions around the region. One thing to really note is the blue sky over Mt. Hood Meadows this afternoon. It may be a little hazy to the south, but it sure looks better than it had earlier in the weekend. What a relief to those that are getting out and about for a bike ride or something like that today. There was a moment this weekend where you couldn’t even see across the Columbia river out of our Gorge camera. That is not the case anymore, as conditions have already felt better. The system arriving late tonight and into Tuesday is going to only improve the situation a bit more. Take advantage of the next day or two. Wildfire smoke is constantly ebbing and flowing in our wind pattern, which means we will likely be back to that again.

High-level smoke forecast is still showing a stream or two of smoke moving through the state as the wind picks up from time to time. Tuesday should help limit that as the wind becomes less aggressive in nature and the relative humidity increases allowing for wildland firefighters to approach these wildfires with more success. The wildfires should not flare up the same way they may be this evening as that front approaches. Regardless, the wildfire smoke may still be a small problem for the east side of the state this evening as we await the full arrival of our trough of low pressure.

How about some rain? Wouldn’t that be a nice arrival right now? Unfortunately, our system moving in tonight isn’t going to instigate too much shower activity around the region. There is about a 10 to 20% chance for some rain around the valley. Most of that will be around the Clackamas and Marion County foothills. Showers are possible around the Oregon coast this evening and tonight, and Seaside had a few drops in the morning hours today. It will be nice to get some measurable rain around the Cascades, followed by a gentle wind. That would really help out the current wildfire conditions in that tough terrain.

Just a reminder that our fresh podcast has come out this afternoon! Go ahead and give it a listen, for it breaks down the week in more detail. You know how it goes, we have plenty to talk about (weather, recreation, and more). I will say that the words heat and wave did come up, but not in the same fashion as last week. We are celebrating the departure of that heat wave.

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