Wildfire Smoke and Smog: Sites for Forecasts

Wildfires have been raging all over state for the last month and a half. Temperatures have reached into the triple digits, demolishing records from summers past, and now we’re in the midst of yet another heatwave. As soon as firefighters get a handle on one blaze, two more sprout up, adding to the smoke and smog already accumulating in the valley.

The current fire in Brookings has displaced thousands of people, not just because of the disastrous flames, but because of the health risks that stem from breathing in wildfire smoke, especially that close to the source. 

Earlier this month, Corvallis felt the impact of wildfire smoke from fires burning at least a few hour’s drive away, nothing like what citizens near Brookings are experiencing, and now it’s happening again. 

But when can we predict to see smoke or smog in Corvallis – like we are now and like we did a few weeks ago – and what dangers does it actually pose?

Since Corvallis is in a valley, with the Pacific to the west and the mountains to the east, smoke and smog from wildfires naturally wants to settle over the area. The amount of smoke we experience will depend on the location of the fires themselves, but the weather plays a major role as well. 

If there’s a low-pressure system coming in from the west, and winds are blowing from the east, Corvallis is in the perfect spot for the two to converge. This is exactly what happened during the previous heatwave, and as it happens again, it’s up to the weather to give us some relief. 

Check out: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/ for faster information. It’s also important to note that the quality of air isn’t just affected by the fires here in Oregon, but all over the North West including Canada. 

As far as our health is concerned, there are several contributing factors that need to be considered. If you have any pre-existing health conditions like asthma or heart disease, you’re at a much greater risk when smoke is in the air. 

How much time you spend outside also has an impact on your health and it should be limited as much as possible. This especially includes any type of strenuous exercise like running, mountain biking, or hiking. Although these activities improve your health under normal conditions, when smog levels are high they can do the opposite. 

Take a look at this site: aqicn.org/city/usa/oregon/corvallis/ to get a better idea of what the air in town is like when Corvallis is at risk for high levels of smoke or smog. Keep in mind the forecast can only tell you so much, and air-quality alerts are usually extended. Pay attention to the weather if you want to know how long the air quality will be poor.

By Nick Stollings