This afternoon the AQI (Air Quality Index) here was 553, "Hazardous." That's the highest I've seen for here, or for Portland. They say the west coast has the worst air in the world. I'm not even letting my cats go outside.
This image in the NY Times shows the western fires and, in Oregon, those in the Cascade Mountains sending their smoke west, dumping it straight into the Williamette Valley.
About 1 M acres have burned in Oregon, or 1,500 sq-miles. That's about 120% of Rhode Island's area, or 1.5% of Oregon. That last number really surprises me. Oregon is vast -- the 9th largest state in the country.
There are reports of 7 dead and dozens missing. This story is utterly heartbreaking, and it's just from down where I just to live a year and a half ago.
Ordinary COVID masks don't keep smoke particles out, they say, only N-95 masks. I'm trying not to go anywhere -- the smell and taste of smoke in the air is really strong. After a few hours of it you get a headache and dry throat. My sister works in Oregon City, a suburb of Portland, and though her company gave her and N-95 mask yesterday she decided not to go there (she does home PT care). OC was only under Level 2, "Get Set" order, but she said many people were leaving anyway, and her colleagues who live there took several hours to get out and somewhere safe, like Gresham on the eastside of Portland, what would normally be an hour drive at worst.
While there was very little humidity here Tuesday and Wednesday, it picked up and Thursday was 71% yesterday (relative humidity). It's supposed to stay high, and rain some Monday and Tuesday. That would be great. The smoke is also blocking the sun. The high here today was only 63; the normal high is 78. I had to turn my heat on for the first time this season.
Trump approved emergency aid for Oregon yesterday, despite all the contretemps about the protesting and rioting in Portland. The governor said they had a good conversation.
Here is a really good article about Oregon in Slate by Oregon resident Rebecca Schuman, "There Are Two Oregons, and They’re Both on Fire."
I'm not doing anything to help, which I feel kind of guilty about.