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Poor Air Quality East of the Cascades

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Moderate air quality, with an “Air Stagnation Advisory” in effect for the Western Valleys and the Klamath Basin, including Lake County.  In fact, Lakeview recorded the “worst” air quality in the USA today with readings in the 150 to 200 on the AQI Index (Considered Unhealthy for everyone) and Klamath Falls was between 100 and 150 on the AQI Index (Considered to be unhealthful for the elderly, young, those with Asthma and lung ailments).  Medford, Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley recorded measurements in the 50 to 100 range, considered to be Moderate and not dangerous except to those most vulnerable to pollution.  The Applegate Valley recorded numbers between 0 and 50, making it good for air quality.

Things will only get worse in the coming days.  Especially East of the Cascades, where snow is on the ground and the coldest air is trapped under a blanket of 45 to 50 degree (and warmer) air at 8,000 feet.  Warm and cold air do not mix, much like oil and water.  So, the cold and dense air near the surface can not mix the pollutants out of the lower 500 to 1,500 feet above the ground.  Where there is significant use of wood burning stoves to heat homes, or where there is industry and vehicle use, values of what we call the PM’s will increase.  (PM’s stand for Particulate Matter).  And, we look at the sizes that are very small (on the order of 2.5 microns and 10 microns).  Smaller than the thickness of thin hair on your head.

These small particles become stuck in your lungs, and are extremely difficult to dislodge.  Healthy individuals are able to handle short bouts of extreme levels of PM 2.5’s and Pm 10’s, while the elderly, young children, those with Asthma and other significant lung diseases or ailments can become very ill when the levels are over 150 (like Lakeview is at this time).

Notice on the Air Quality Index map in this weather presentation where the worst numbers are located.  I will update this daily for your convenience and remind you to reduce your outside activities when conditions warrant.

The long range computer charts indicate no significant change in the high pressure ridge for 10 to 14 days.  Although it will move inland slightly…allowing for an onshore flow at the coastline and some intrusion of moisture into the Umpqua, Illinois and Western Rogue Valleys…resulting in more widespread low clouds and fog later this weekend and next week; there will be no wind or storminess to clear the current pollution from the valleys and Basin until the next cold front arrives.