Stagnant Air in Willamette Valley, Corvallis at “Moderate” Air Quality

A stagnant air advisory has been issued for the majority of western Oregon and southwest Washington, excluding the coast, through Wednesday afternoon. This may cause respiratory issues for some residents. The National Weather Service (NWS) has also discouraged outdoor burning. 

According to David Bishop, a meteorologist with the NWS in Portland, air stagnation forms when a high pressure ridge lingers over the area, causing calm weather. 

“If that ridge and calm weather decides to hang around for an extended period, the air also isn’t moving around,” he said in a conversation with The Register-Guard. 

The advisory issued Sunday morning said to expect stagnant air through 4 p.m. on Wednesday at elevations below 1,500 feet. The minimal air movement could have adverse effects on health, according to Bishop. 

“Obviously if the air is not changing out, particulate matter can hang around, which could lead to an impact,” he said. 

The advisory discourages outdoor burning and recommends residential wood burning devices be “limited as much as possible.”  

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency issued a “Yellow Home Wood Heating” notice for Eugene, Springfield, and Oakridge for Saturday through Wednesday, discouraging the use of fireplaces and wood stoves to keep air quality acceptable. 

“If you do light a fire, this is the weekend to check your smoke plume and assure it’s creating as little smoke as possible,” the notice states. “Efficient fires are small, hot and use dry, seasoned wood with open dampers.” 

Low visibility could also be a side effect of air stagnation, causing hazardous driving conditions. The advisory cautions drivers to slow down, use headlights, and leave sufficient room between vehicles. It also recommends individuals with respiratory conditions to heed their doctor’s advice when dealing with high levels of air pollution. 

At noon on Sunday, LRAPA’s air quality map gave “good” ratings of 29 and 15 to Eugene and Springfield, respectively, while AirNow.gov also gave Salem a “good” rating of 41. Corvallis received a rating of 60, which is “moderate” – meaning if you are particularly sensitive, limit your outdoor activities. 

By Kevin Coalwell 

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email editor@corvallisadvocate.com