Wildfire smoke keeps air quality down for areas of Oregon


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Time and again the summer wildfire smoke will find a way to Oregon – either from local wildfires that have been burning or from nearby states or even continents.

Right now there is a lot of wildfire smoke moving across the United States from large wildfires from California to Colorado. The visible satellite is capturing that light thin veil of gray all the way to Illinois. That wildfire smoke has moved into Oregon as well, and that has some communities dealing with air quality issues to start the week.

GOES 17 – Visible Satellite Wildfire Smoke

Right now, the wind is generally flowing from the southwest to the northeast and then carrying east. The wildfire map below helps depict the smoke impact across southern Oregon all the way to Washington. Since the wind is carrying that smoke mainly east, areas from the Oregon coast to Portland have mainly escaped the smoke, which has been a consistent pattern for a week or two.

For those of you east of the Cascades, it has been a different story. Heavy smoke for the locations in orange, as they deal with a combination of sources around the area.

Check out the air quality as of Monday afternoon, this is from the Oregon DEQ. Levels are good up and down the Willamette Valley, but once you cross over the Cascades, that level lowers to moderate or even unhealthy. You can expect a consistent haze in the sky, which may play with your eyes or may lead other issues. It is recommended to limit your time outside if you are fortunate enough to do that.

Meteorologist Kelley Bayern spent some time in central Oregon this weekend and discusses the smoky sky and conditions in our most recent weather podcast that you can find here.

Will we see these conditions improve? I don’t believe we will for some time. It is possible that some areas around Jefferson county experience an improvement. At this time, it doesn’t look there will be anything to cut off the source or redirect it another direction. To be honest, that doesn’t solve the problem. We will likely have on and off issues until we bring in the rain and transition out of summer as wildfires continue to burn.

For now, that wildfire smoke will continue to be transported in our direction as long as the pattern stays like it is and the wildfires continue to burn. Air quality alerts are in place until Wednesday for Jefferson and Deschutes counties. Below is a weather model that details the potential areas that will be dealing with smoke the next day. That wildfire smoke is likely to impact a majority of the United States, but notice that our northwest corner of the state is actually one location that is avoiding this smoke. That goes for areas of up in Washington outside of local wildfires.

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