LA GRANDE — Air quality in the Grande Ronde and Wallowa valleys will not be good, overall, the next two days because of wildfires in Southwest Oregon.
The air quality monitoring service +IQAir indicates that air quality in Enterprise will be unhealthy Tuesday, July 20, and Wednesday, July 21, and in La Grande it will be moderate on July 20 and good on July 21. The ratings in the unhealthy category for Enterprise are projected to be 142 on July 20 and 114 on July 21.
The +IQAir ratings forecast for La Grande calls for air quality to be in the moderate category at 70 on July 20 and in the good category at 42 on July 21.
The air quality in La Grande and Enterprise is projected to be mediocre primarily because of smoke Northeast Oregon is receiving from the Bootleg Fire in Southwest Oregon, according to Mike Vescio, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Pendleton. Vescio said wind from the southwest is continuing to blow smoke from the Bootleg Fire to this region.
Vescio said Northeast Oregon will receive a break on July 20 because of a cold front that will move into the region.
“Winds from it will push some of the smoke to Idaho,” he said.
Vescio said though that by July 21 the region will again be receiving smoke from the Bootleg Fire because of more winds from the southwest.
The Bootleg Fire, which broke out July 6, is now the nation’s largest at more than 300,000 acres. It is burning along the Oregon-California border in the Fremont Winema National Forest and is now 25% contained, according to inciWeb, a website for wildfire information.
The National Weather Service is forecasting widespread haze in the Grande Ronde Valley each day through July 25, while in the Wallowa Valley there will be smoke patches each day over the same period.
Vescio said he is not sure how much the smoke Union and Wallowa counties will receive from the Bootleg Fire will impact air quality because much of it may be higher in the atmosphere where it has less impact on what people breathe.
“It looks like a lot of it will be aloft,” he said.