PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – We have avoided the wildfire smoke as of late because of our general weather pattern; however, with the wind shifting, wildfire smoke is going to return to the area starting Tuesday.
Now, it’s not going to be unruly or unbearable, but it will probably be noticeable for most folks. This may even put a hit to the air quality around certain areas of the Willamette Valley. I’m not expecting a drop around Portland, but if we do have some vulnerable areas, they may reach a moderate level. Expect the air quality to worsen farther south in the valley Tuesday, closer to Marion County and areas hugging the Cascades.
We will most likely have some air quality issues in Washington too, as wildfire smoke is pushed west from an easterly wind, across the state line. This may find a way to portions of the Columbia River Gorge as well. Late morning hours show a beautiful scene out of Stoller Winery over in Dayton, Oregon. It isn’t that smoky for wine country at this hour, as surface wind is still protecting most of the valley. However, the wind aloft isn’t in our favor for the southern valley and it will eventually allow for some smoke to take over higher in the sky today.
Check out the loop of the visible satellite this morning. The thin transparent shroud moving north across Oregon is wildfire smoke. There are also plumes of smoke being dispersed from the active wildfires across the Cascades this morning. A majority of that smoke is going to transport north and east today. However, it’s going to be that north track that will drive the smoke up into our neck of the woods. That smoke will mix in with some of the other passing clouds, but the sunshine shouldn’t come to an end around here. In fact, the wildfire smoke may embellish the sunset tonight with some more color. The loop is always useful, because it gives you an idea of the general trend and motion for the day. There isn’t anything that is going to alter the wind direction as we head into the afternoon. Central Oregon and eastern Oregon will be the main targets today.
Below is an idea of the wind direction in the low level of the atmosphere today (pushing mid-level 10,000ft). Generally, the wind is flowing from the southwest up to the northeast and extending mainly westerly through Idaho (northerly tilt). However, closer to the Gorge and areas of the Willamette Valley, that wind is either coming in from the south or it is coming in from the east, which is going to usher some of that smoke right into our section of the state. The wind isn’t very strong, so it is going to be slow travel. It also isn’t going to bring all that much smoke into our region because of that too. You can ignore the red and blue lines, just focus on the wind barbs.
Now we can take the wind and the wildfire smoke and put them both together to get an idea of the smoke forecast this evening. Since we have already looked at both elements, you can now visualize how the smoke forecast may unfold by dinnertime. The thickest smoke is going to be moving north and east, but we do have a layer right over areas of the Willamette Valley and potentially the coast. Most of the smoke around here is going to be higher in the sky, with more of a surface issue closer to the sources of the smoke. Think areas to the south, closer to Douglas county and Lane county. There is already a bit of haze around The Dalles today. That camera is looking to the south, where the smoke is moving in from today. I expect there to be more of a haze in the afternoon and evening hours in the peak sunshine and heat.
You may notice the fire perimeters in the wildfire smoke graphic above. It’s easiest to pick out the Bootleg fire that is that massive red fence in Klamath and Lake counties.
Well, the graphic below is another version of what is active right now and it gives an idea of some of the wildfire action in Oregon at this time. It’s that cluster of fires in the Cascades that is mainly the root of some of the local wildfire smoke. We see that in the visible satellite above, where the smoke plumes are coming out like fireplaces in the winter. It’s just a busy area, where wildfire smoke will be continuous today as wildfires flare-up. It is around that region of the state where I suspect the air quality will be at the lowest today.
One of the air quality forecast models is projecting that too. It all adds up, because that is the location that is near that string of wildfires, which are still active. It’s also a spot that is going to be pulling in smoke from California too. The combination of the two does absolutely no good for the local communities around there. I will note, that I think the wildfire smoke may have more of an impact in the green area stretching north into the Willamette Valley and through central and eastern Oregon. This is just for the 2 p.m. hour, but I would expect more moderate level air quality by the afternoon and evening for many in central and eastern Oregon.
I want to finish this weather blog with an informational graphic from the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon. If you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, whether it is recreational or for work, make sure to check the air quality information. You can find a good source at the link in the infographic below. You may want to plan your recreation around this, especially if you have any health concerns that may be triggered by wildfire smoke and poor air quality.