Ash? You bet. Rain? Not much of it


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – We are familiar with wildfire smoke this summer, but, we haven’t had to deal with much ash. Not the case in the early hours Wednesday as ash from wildfires found a way down to the surface.

You can blame it on the light rain that fell overnight, carrying some of that dirty product down to your windows and cars.

If you were wondering what the spots of brown where on your way out today, it was ash. It may have looked like this (photos from reporter Gabby Urenda) :

When there are all those particulates in the air, they can be mixed down to the surface with light rain events. It may trigger a few memories from the wildfire smoke and ash that was falling from the sky at times last year in September due to the Labor Day wind event.

The combination of the water and ash is a ticket to the car wash. The National Weather Service in Portland also noticed this in the early hours as they were going to check the rain gauge. It does seem like this was mainly around areas of Portland, but you could have had a similar situation around Vancouver and nearby communities. That rain came down around 2 a.m. and was very light until the 4 a.m. hour. We only registered a trace of rain out of the Portland Airport. It was enough to get a lot of cars dirty.

Improvements with our wildfire smoke is going to be the first thing you notice this afternoon compared to yesterday afternoon. With more of a thick haze yesterday, the sky almost had a brown tint to it. It was a mixture of the wildfire smoke aloft and the nearby Bull Complex, that offered us the smoke and ash. If you watch the loop below, you can see that the bulk of wildfire smoke is now east. We still have an active streamer of smoke coming from eastern Marion County and the Bull Complex. Smoke stays active through the southern Cascades too, with many active wildfires still burning. What we are not picking up on, is the wildfire smoke around the Willamette Valley. There may be a haze to the south through Marion county and Linn county. We also have a very thin haze trying to disperse around Portland, which is noticeable on the early frames of the loop. Overall, there is going to be improvements each hour.

Mt. Hood Meadows 9.8.2021
Mt. Hood Meadows 9.7.21

Talk about a major improvement around Mt. Hood this afternoon. There is plenty of blue sky coming out of the camera view there, where wildfire smoke has now migrated mainly to the east of the mountain. Below you can see the view of Mt. Hood Meadows on Tuesday afternoon. You could barely make out the peak of the mountain because of that dense wildfire smoke. It was all a combination of high pressure, southerly wind, and active wildfires that brought that smoke screen yesterday. If you chose to wait a day for that mountain bike trail or that afternoon hike, you make the correct decision. We know from the visible satellite loop above that there are still going to be some areas that are dealing with the wildfire smoke, so we must be weary of lower air quality readings. I will show you the vertically integrated smoke weather model for Wednesday evening. Check out all that wildfire smoke that is streaming through the Rockies and all around areas of Oregon and states south. It is just a smoke bowl out there right now. Some of the densest smoke is located right here in Oregon. The combination of our ongoing wildfires and California is creating a constant pump of smoke this summer. Conditions aren’t as cruel in the Midwest because they just had a system move through and it really cleaned out the smoke and the wind pattern shifted. Some of this smoke may find a place out east as the weather pattern again shifts later in the week. We can note that western Washington and Oregon, are one of the best spots in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), to avoid wildfire smoke. Although, we can’t say much about falling ash this morning. We aren’t completely off the hook.

At lunchtime on Wednesday, the air quality was still in the yellow category around Portland. You can see that areas around Detroit, are taking the brunt of the air quality issues today. Central Oregon is no walk in the park either, as wildfire smoke continues to impact your forecast. I do expect the air quality to improve around Portland. Make sure you check the air quality updates if you’re sensitive to dropping air quality. This may affect your reaction to something as simple as a routine afternoon bike ride.

There are multiple air quality alerts in place through today. We still have a large air quality advisory through Clackamas county and Marion county until Thursday night. Which means many won’t have a significant improvement to their air quality just yet.


If you want to listen to the upcoming forecast for the week, you should check out our recent weather podcast. You can find updates to the wildfire smoke, weather pattern, and rain chances with a fun and quick listen below.

I do want to note, that it is still pretty clear that the wildfire smoke is hanging around areas of the Cascade foothills this afternoon. Although the view from Mt. Hood above looks clean and blue, you can see it from the distance. That is why a lot of locations are still under that air quality advisory until Thursday. Eventually, we will have a stronger onshore flow, which should help clean out that crud.

KOIN Tower East View 9.8.21

Finally, it looks like the ash hit Meteorologist Steve Pierce too!

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