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Wildfire Smoke Brings Colored Haze to Portland, Oregon Coast - Possibly Returns Weekend

Published 11/13/2018 at 6:09 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Wildfire Smoke Brings Colored Haze to Portland, Oregon Coast - Possibly Returns Weekend

(Portland, Oregon) – Air quality around Oregon has diminished over the last day due to smoke from the California wildfire, with much of the Portland area in the moderate air quality zone as particulates are measured at 50 to 90. This is expected to worsen over the course of Tuesday evening until about midnight, after which the wind directions will change and drizzle will start cleansing the atmosphere. (Above: the scene from the NOAA Depoe Bay sky cam on Tuesday showed purple haze).

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However, on the Oregon coast it’s causing only hazy skies and rather pleasantly colored clouds. This too will disappear, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland. But the weekend will bring more warmer, drier conditions and likely a return to some funky colored skies.

Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the NWS, explained what was happening and noted that air quality isn’t an issue on the Oregon coast.

“We’ve got enough southerly flow to draw up smoke from the northern California fires,” Bryant said. “I don’t think it’s diminishing air quality tremendously, it’s just hampering visibility.”

No one is really complaining about the smoke along the coastline, but it is causing increasing discomfort inland. Along one section of the I-5 corridor near Corvallis, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality site is showing a bad air index of 111, which is considered unhealthy for some groups.

“We have a weak weather system moving through tonight and tomorrow that will at least reduce the smoke,” Bryant said.

Newport northward is expected to see more light rain, but there’s less of a chance south of there, Bryant said.

“It’ll change the overall flow pattern enough to push out most of that smoke,” he said. “Unfortunately it pushes it to become someone else’s problem. Conditions will improve along the north Oregon coast.”

On the southern Oregon coast, between Florence and Brookings, smoke is more of a problem the closer you get to the California border. Those areas will see improvement for a few days as well.

More dry and sunny weather for the entire Oregon coast is in store soon, Bryant said. Indeed, temps will be closing in on 60 degrees for beach towns like Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Pacific City and Yachats, going from about Thursday through Tuesday. The beaches and the Portland area could see more of the smokey haze return, but it’s hard to see how much at this point.

“It looks like this system of high pressure will strengthen again over California and Oregon, and we could see a return to the southerly flow that brings a little smoke in,” Bryant said. “It’s still iffy what exactly the flow direction will be. It does look dry from Thursday through Monday or Tuesday, so it could be an issue over the weekend.”

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