PENDLETON, OR -- Wildfire smoke continues to permeate nearly every corner of the High Desert, but Meteorologist John Peck, with the National Weather Service in Pendleton, says don't blame new local fires reported this week. "They’re definitely contributing, but by far the large amount of smoke that’s up there right now is coming from the very large fires in northern California and southwestern Oregon."
Peck says the upper-level haze is typically from distant fires, "You can get a really big smoke plume and it’ll blot out the sun, but that generally doesn’t affect the surface visibility that much. When you get the more local smoke that doesn’t get into the upper-level winds, it just kind of drifts around, that’s really what’s substantially reducing the surface air quality and surface visibility." But, in Central Oregon, we're getting a combination of both. Peck adds, "Most of the smoke that’s really dropping the 'vis' down in Bend is actually from the fires in northwest California and southwest Oregon; the very large ones down there: The Chetco Bar, and the Eclipse Complex in northern California."
Peck tells KBND News cooler temperatures will help, temporarily. "As the winds switch around to the northwest, that should scour out some of that low-level smoke. But, of course, the Milli Fire is directly upwind of you with a northwest wind, so you’ll still have some." And after that, "We’ll have another high moving in for the weekend. We’re expecting very warm temperatures – near record temperatures – and the winds will be switching back around to basically light from the south/southeast. It might not be quite as bad for the weekend, but any smoke that forms is likely going to linger with that high pressure moving over us." He predicts Friday's high around 94, then, "Saturday 98 and Sunday 97. We’ll cool off a little bit for Labor Day, back to 93, and temperatures kind of look to hover around the same area, the low 90s, after that."