PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – There are currently 38 active wildfires in the United States according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
A majority of those wildfires are up in Alaska, with a handful of large fires in the southwest and a few in California. Locally, we have been extremely fortunate.
What is likely due to the safety of residents and the wet spring, we have avoided the start of the season here in Oregon and up in Washington. However, that doesn’t mean we are free from wildfire smoke from other locations in the world. It does mean, however, that you may be hearing about wildfire smoke moving through the Pacific Northwest.
Where would that smoke be coming from and will it have any impact on our lives? Keep reading to find out.
The current weather pattern is favorable for us to be clear from most, if not all, wildfire smoke. We have come across some smoke from Alaska and even smoke from across the Pacific Ocean in the past.
Any recent wildfire smoke isn’t going to be significant enough to mess with our air quality up here in Portland. We are cool, we have had active weather, we have more weather coming and the wind is keeping us relatively clean.
You can see the vertical smoke forecast for Wednesday evening below. The PNW is relatively in the clear and anything that is nearby is weak. We aren’t to that part of the wildfire season locally, that would have a stronger impact.
The map below shows where the current large incidents are located as of mid-June. Why are we looking at Alaska as our greatest threat of wildfire smoke? That is where the majority of wildfires are located. This is also a spot that can funnel smoke from the west down to the southeast.
We do have weather patterns that bring in some of the wildfire smoke from Alaska from time to time. Something to watch as summer comes soaring in.
Let’s take a wider view of where the local wildfire smoke is traveling from the wildfires to the southwest. There is a stream of consistent smoke impacting Arizona and New Mexico while streaming across areas of the Midwest. Due to all the warm weather they are having right now, it’s probably not a great mix for them.
Air quality is probably having a harder time in those areas of the USA. The weather pattern prevents that wildfire smoke in the southwest from reaching our section of the state for the coming days.
Let’s zoom up north to the smoke forecast for Alaska. Notice that the forecast from the Alaska Climate Research Center has a heavy flow of smoke particles near the surface from Aniak to Kaltag. Notice that even locally in Alaska, although a massive state, there are a lot of locations where the smoke is thin.
However, it’s these large wildfires that are giving out smoke particles that may eventually pass through the PNW if the wind pattern sets up correctly.
This happened just recently, leaving some areas slightly hazy. This has not hurt our air quality in Portland or surrounding communities. We are still in the green. The weather is doing just the trick to keep us from any issues.
Lastly, if the smoke particles are creating any sort of visual impact, it may be a more vibrant sunrise or sunset for the area. That type of particle can scatter the blues out of the sky giving off more of a red or orange appearance. The low clouds were more of an impact than the smoke, but it’s something to know!