Wildfire Smoke And Particles Choke Southern Oregon Communities

Jul 24, 2018

Nine major wildfires continue to produce new smoke and spew particulates, making air quality in Southern Oregon the *worst in the nation.

Air pollution sensors in and around the Rogue Valley are reading “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” levels. Roseburg and other Douglas County communities were issued an Air Quality Alert. Conditions are worse in southern Oregon where air remains choked with wildfire smoke.

Marc Spilde is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford. He says the forecast is not good.

Marc Spilde stepped out of his Medford office Tuesday afternoon to take this picture of the smoky air. He says mountains in the background are usually visible 2 miles away.
Credit Marc Spilde

“There is really no way to sugar coat it, I wish I could,” Spilde says. “Unfortunately we’re right in the middle of fire season and fire season pretty much goes right through August into September. Where the fires are, north of the Rogue Valley, it’s not a good location for them just because the wind patterns have a tendency to bring the smoke back into the valleys during the afternoon and evening then it settles in overnight beneath an inversion.”

People, particularly those in sensitive groups, are advised to limit exposure to smoky air. Spilde says masks marked N-95 help filter out small particles and smoke.

Meteorologist Marc Spilde forecasts no clear end to the smoky air in the Rogue Valley.
Credit Marc Spilde

The smoky skies in Medford on Tuesday afternoon.
Credit Marc Spilde

Smoke from the Canyon Creek fire is adding to the air quality problem in southern Oregon.
Credit Department of Forestry

So far, Lane County has been spared the wildfire smoke but that could change. What matters is which direction the fires burn and what way the wind blows.