LA GRANDE — The air quality in the smoky Grande Ronde and Wallowa valleys is expected to generally improve over the next four days because of a projected wind shift.

“We are expecting westerly winds which will push the smoke away from Oregon,” said Cole Evans, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Pendleton.

Evans said the winds will “kick into gear’’ on Thursday, July 22, and continue through most of the weekend.

The winds blowing west to east will be a switch from the southwesterly winds Northeastern Oregon has been receiving. Those winds have brought with them smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Southwestern Oregon.

The change in winds is because of a low-pressure system that is moving out of the region, Evans said.

With the projected shift in winds, the National Weather Service has upgraded its forecasts for the Grande Ronde and Wallows valleys.

The National Weather Service is projecting the Grande Ronde Valley will continue to have widespread haze on July 22 and on July 23, but on July 24 and July 25 there will be no haze.

The National Weather Service had originally forecast the Grande Ronde Valley would have haze each day through July 25.

The forecast is also brighter for the Wallowa Valley where smoky patches had also been forecast for each day at least through July 25 by the National Weather Service. The agency is now predicting only widespread haze each day through July 27.

The forecast, from +IQAir, an air-quality monitoring website, is not as encouraging. +IQAir is forecasting that air quality in Enterprise will be in the unhealthy category the next two days, with ratings of 101 on July 22 and 132 on July 23.

Enterprise also had unhealthy air quality last weekend when its rating was 114 on July 17 and 102 on July 18.

Evans said starting July 25 or July 26, Northeastern Oregon will likely start receiving winds from Southwestern Oregon, again bringing more smoke from the Bootleg Fire. He said air quality conditions in the region will then depend on the status of the Bootleg Fire.

The blaze is now the nation’s largest wildfire at more than 388,000 acres. It is burning along the Oregon-California border in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and is now 30% contained, according to inciWeb, a website for wildfire information.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer primarily covering the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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