Poor air in Medford's weekend forecast

·2 min read

Aug. 27—Shifting winds and burnout operations to bolster the containment lines of nearby wildfires will bring another round of poor air quality to the Rogue Valley this weekend.

Medford's air quality was at "good" levels from 6 p.m. Thursday until 8 a.m. Friday, according to air quality monitor readings at the corner of Welch and West Jackson streets in Medford. The area saw a "moderate" reading at 9 a.m. Friday, and an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality outlook expects the air quality to worsen.

DEQ issued an air quality advisory for Jackson and Klamath counties expected to last through Monday afternoon.

Behind the changes are shifting wind patterns caused by a marine layer west of the Cascade Crest that's expected to lift by late Friday morning. Winds will push smoke southeast by Friday afternoon, and light down-valley winds are expected overnight, according to an Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program smoke outlook issued Friday morning for the South Oregon Cascades region.

The outlook expects Medford's overall air quality index to be "unhealthy for sensitive groups," with much of the smoke impacts expected later Friday. Air quality will further degrade Saturday with an overall AQI of "unhealthy."

The winds come as crews are expected to generate smoke while working multiple wildfire complexes burning in Douglas County.

"Crews continue to prep containment lines and implement burnout operations in the afternoon and evenings throughout the fire ares," the outlook states.

The Devils Knob complex, burning in the Umpqua National Forest near the Tiller Ranger District, had a footprint of 28,151 acres and was 25% contained as of Friday morning. The Jack fire burning about 20 miles east of Glide was at 23,853 acres and 53% contained, and the Rough Patch complex burning about 10 miles north of the Jack fire was at 28,493 acres and 11% contained.

When smoke levels are high, health officials recommend, windows and doors should be kept closed, people should avoid strenuous outdoor activity, and anyone with health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or asthma should follow their health care provider's advice.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

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