Skip to main content

Air Quality Should be Improving Over the Weekend for Much of the State

Current Conditions: 

As of this morning, our air quality was being dominated by smoke coming down from the fires in Canada and smoke originating from fires within Oregon.   As of this morning, there were 10 large wildfires burning in the state, including one new fire (Nena Springs), as shown on the map below.  Not all fires emit equal amounts of smoke, due to differences in fire size, and fuel types.  

Air quality conditions as of 9:00 this morning where mostly hazy and in the moderate category (indicated by the yellow dots) across the state with the exception of unhealthy for sensitive groups (indicated by the orange dots) and unhealthy for everyone (red dots) in the northeastern portion of the state, and in the central cascades near the Whitewater fire which is burning near Mt. Jefferson.  Good air quality could still be found in a few locations in the state indicated by the green dots.

Hazy conditions are persisting today across much of the state today as the ridge of high pressure continues to remain over our area.  This is bringing smoke down from the fires in British Columbia much of the state, especially in Northeastern portions of the state including Pendleton, La Grande, Enterprise, Joseph, and Baker City, as shown in the satellite image below, which was taken this morning from the GOES Terra satellite. 

It was so hazy this morning in Joseph, the normally spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains could not be observed from town, as shown in the image below.  Normally, Chief Joseph Mountain, which is six miles away, can be viewed, but not this morning.

Weekend Air Quality Forecast:

The ridge which has been dominating our weather pattern will break down with the advance of an upper level trough beginning tomorrow in Western Oregon and advance eastward throughout the state over the weekend, as shown in the 500 mb map below.

This will bring improved mixing, and a chance of thunderstorms to the area, and the return of westerly winds.  Communities on the eastern foothills of the Cascades will continue to experience smoke from local fires include the Nina, Whitewater, Spruce Lake, and the Blacket Creek Fires, but the high background levels of smoke coming from the fires in British Columbia should diminish significantly as that smoke moves out of our areas.  Air quality in the Willamette Valley will begin showing signs of improvement on Friday with significant improvement by Saturday. Northeastern Oregon should see much improved conditions by Sunday.  Please refer to the air quality forecasts associated with individual fires including the Whitewater, Chetco Bar, Blanket Creek, and Spruce Lake for impacts to communities affected by this fire.   

Remember, this is a dynamic situation and conditions can and do change rapidly, especially with new fire starts.  Oregon had 850 lightning strikes in the past 24 hours as shown on the map below. indicated by the purple triangles.   More lightning is expected statewide.  We will try to update these forecasts as conditions change.