July 2, 2008

Haze From Central Oregon Wildfires Settles Over Area

By Erik Robinson, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Jul. 2--Thank the wildfires in -Central Oregon for the atmospheric sunscreen of haze covering Southwest Washington over the past couple of days.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday reported southerly flows of air carrying smoke across the Cascade Range from Central Oregon and possibly even up the Willamette Valley from wildfires in Northern California. A weather inversion Portland-Vancouver trapped the haze by Tuesday afternoon, obscuring the view of Mount Hood.

The smoke shouldn't create a health hazard, according to local air authorities.

That's because the inversion's atmospheric "cap" was about 3,400 feet as of Tuesday afternoon. By contrast, wintertime inversions drop as low as a few hundred feet.

"It is a visibility and aesthetic issue rather than a public health issue," said Bob Elliott, director of the Southwest Clean Air Agency in Vancouver.

Automated air quality monitors- on the ground in Vancouver on Tuesday showed no indication of a spike in fine particulate matter, which can cause health problems for people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children.

The haze and the heat alike should break by the end of the week, with the high temperature dropping to the mid- to high 70s by Independence Day.

"We haven't had a good weather system to clear this out," said Tyree Wilde, warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service in Portland.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

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