Red flag weather warning
July 31, 2013
Smoke May Impact Air Quality
As the wildfire season heats up, the southern Willamette Valley may see periodic intrusions of smoke from wildfires. Smoke from active wildfires in Douglas County and southwest Oregon may make its way to the area if winds shift over the next few days. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for parts of Lane County and dry thunderstorms with lightning are forecast for this afternoon and evening, which may trigger wildfires closer to our area. This is the beginning of what could be an active wildfire season and LRAPA is encouraging residents to keep an eye on air quality.
“Wildfires have become a common part of summer in Oregon. It’s not unusual to have smoke from distant fires make its way into our area,” says Sally Markos, spokesperson for the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA). “Upper atmosphere winds can transport smoke for hundreds of miles.” Although current smoke dispersion forecasts from the Oregon Department of Forestry generally keep the smoke away from Lane County, conditions can change quickly if new wildfires erupt.
Residents who are sensitive to pollution are advised to use caution when participating in outdoor activities. Individuals with asthma, respiratory problems, or heart disease are advised to curtail vigorous activity when air quality deteriorates. The fine particles in the smoke are especially harmful because they are inhaled deep into the lungs and can enter the bloodstream. Residents experiencing health problems associated with the smoke and heat are encouraged to consult with their doctors.
LRAPA will be monitoring conditions over the next few days and will provide updates as warranted. The public can track hourly particulate levels and the Air Quality Index by logging onto the LRAPA website at http://www.LRAPA.org. For up-to-date information about the wildfires, including smoke dispersion forecasts, residents can check out an interagency blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.
McKenzie River Reflections