PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Wildfires in California are again pushing wildfire smoke in our direction on Wednesday.
They are really starting to exhale smoke out into the atmosphere which is traveling north as you read this. Below is a loop of that shroud of smoke moving into Oregon. You can see the wildfires across the state line picking up steam and shooting smoke out, looking like a busy smokestack. Areas that will be most affected by the wildfire smoke include southwest Oregon. Smoke will be the most consistent here, also closer to the surface.
As of Wednesday afternoon, that wildfire smoke hasn’t made much of an impression around Portland just yet. The view looking to the north from the KOIN tower is still mostly clear. There may be a hazy scene in the distance, especially looking south and towards the Cascades. This will become more evident in the late hours of the day, especially closer to sunset. It may be relatively smoky at night too, before improving from west to east on Thursday.
Cycle through the two weather graphics below to get an idea of the high-level smoke forecast and surface smoke forecast for tonight. This may be the most high-level smoke spread across the state that the weather models have delivered for Oregon. Not nearly as drastic if you look at the surface smoke forecast as you cycle through the images below. Surface smoke will be more noticeable from Jefferson County south to Klamath County. However, air quality will definitely take a ding this evening. You will want to limit your time outdoors.
The National Weather Service in Pendleton put out a great informational graphic today. It breaks down where the smoke is coming from and how it works. Essentially the wildfire smoke is being pushed north from the southerly winds aloft. It is running into high pressure over the region which is going to help capture that smoke down toward the surface. It’s all connected! The orientation of the graphic below is a little tricky, but follow the directional navigation on the top left of the graphic. Pretend like you’re at the Oregon coast and you’re looking towards Portland from the ocean! Notice that the smoke is mostly staying inland, but there may even be some wildfire smoke reaching the coast tonight.
Air quality remains an issue for Wasco county and communities riding the Columbia river. Conditions remain hazy from wildfire smoke coming in from Washington and from the south. It’s possible that the air quality reaches unhealthy levels. The aforementioned wildfire smoke that is moving from the north today is also putting Douglas county in an air quality alert until Thursday evening. Conditions improving west of the Cascades as a system arrives from the west near the end of the week.
We have many small wildfires in the Cascades right now due to lightning from recent thunderstorms. There will be an exception for you folks that are closer to these wildfires. Smoke will impact you closer to the surface, especially right on the other side of the Cascade crest. Areas of highway 97, will have a smoky sky that is a bit more noticeable than those to the west. Consult the surface smoke weather model above to see how these fires, like the Jack Fire, are providing smoke for the wind to fan east.