Friday, September 8, 2017

9/8 Smoke, Smoke, and Maybe a Little Less Smoke!

I am now in southern Oregon for a few days on my way to the Oregon Coast for a few weeks.  The news in the last few days have focused on hurricanes, but the Northwest has been having a serious fire season.  A wet winter apparently allowed a lot of grass and undergrowth, which then died in the hot summer, producing a lot of dry tinder which has been igniting all over British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Idaho, and even parts of Montana.  

I noticed the smoke way back when I stayed at The Cove Palisades State Park in early August, but it has gotten a lot worse in the last week.  Portland is doing much better, but last week was miserable for most residents.  The worst was when a teenager threw a smoke bomb off a trail down a cliff, causing a fire in Eagle Creek near where it it empties into the Columbia River Gorge, setting off a huge fire that jumped this very wide river and lit both sides.  The interstate highway, I-84, was closed for several days. Not sure if it is open yet, but here is a news article and photos of the fire:  http://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/index.ssf/2017/09/eagle_creek_fire_rages_in_colu.html

Here is a map of Oregon showing fires.  The orange symbols are recent fires that are mostly extinguished, the red icons are current fires, and the green icons are newly ignited fires.  The white arrow shows where I currently am camping. 

I noticed the smoke from fires way back in early August, you may notice from my postings from near Bend. The smoke was evident even in Napa, California, where I just spent over two weeks with family.  

It was a pretty drive yesterday from Red Bluff.  I came very close to cancelling my reservations for the next month in Oregon because many places had hazardous air quality index scores.  Luckily, Wednesday night there was some rain in Red Bluff and a lot of places in Oregon, which helped the smoke and those fighting the fires. 

So, how can you tell rain clouds from smoke?  The smoke tends to lay low in valleys and across mountains and smoke also tends to be very spread out and end up being an overall haze.  The clouds are puffy and higher.   



Everything looks like you used a clouded lens to take photos.


The next two photos look very similar, but in the first one you can barely see a mountain in the distance.  This one was taken yesterday, Thursday, right after I arrived at Emigrant Lake.

In this next photo, taken today, Friday, September 8, you can not only see the mountain on the right but another mountain in the middle that is even farther away.  This may not seem like a big difference, but the sun was out most of the day and the lake looks bluer.  This area also had had rain the previous night and air quality went from "Hazardous" down to "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."  That is a drop from 400 to 150 here in a little over 24 hours.  



Here is a link to a chart showing air quality index colors and explanations:  https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi 

 This is a very pretty county recreation area campground.  The lake is low, as you can see from the very long and very dry boat ramp in the background!  But I don't swim or boat anyway, so I don't really care.  This part of the campground is relatively new and has all full-hookup sites on two levels.  Had I known, I would have chosen a site from the top level with a better view. 
 Pretty view on all sides of this place. 
 

This direction is a little more smoky so the view is not as good. 






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