After record high temperatures on Thursday, the hot, hazy weather is expected to continue today, but Northeast Oregonians can look forward to a reprieve from the heat on Saturday, with temperatures expected to drop more than 20 degrees.
La Grande hit a high temperature of 102 degrees on Thursday, tying a previous high for Aug. 9 set in 1971. Records were set all around Northeast Oregon and Southwest Washington. Last year, the high temperature on Aug. 9 in La Grande was 96 degrees.
In Meacham, the National Weather Service recorded a high temperature of 102 degrees, which tied for their third hottest day ever.
An excessive heat warning combined with low levels of humidity and strong winds caused the NWS to issue a red flag warning, where the above weather qualities can contribute to “extreme fire behavior.” Jim Smith, a meteorologist with the NWS in Pendleton, said red flag warnings are not particularly uncommon for Northeast Oregon.
The warning notes that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended.”
Compounded with the heat air quality has been rated as moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups air quality around the Grand Ronde Valley. Smith said the smoke causing less than optimal air quality is coming from fires in Southwest
Oregon and California. In Cove, the smoke has caused an air quality level of 111, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Yet, these levels don’t begin to approach the levels of quality in Southern Oregon. At the Shady Cove School station, which is 22 miles outside of Medford, air quality is rated at 344, which is a hazardous level and the worst air quality on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s scale.
With the high temperature expected to drop to the mid to upper 80s on Saturday, the haziness is also expected to, at least somewhat, subside.
Editor's Note: The print version of this article incorrectly stated that La Grande was 105 degrees yesterday; this has been changed to 102 degrees.