Weekly Weather Event -Week of September 7thSeptember 11, 2020
Historic wildfires are burning through California, Oregon, and Washington state, causing mass evacuations and stunning damage across the three states. On social media, images have circulated of both the large plumes of smoke visible from satellite footage and the eerie orange and red skies that blanket most of the West Coast, giving a snapshot into the many problems these states are currently facing.
In Oregon, over 500,000 people were told to evacuate from the encroaching fires, making up approximately 10% of the state’s entire population. More than 900,00 acres have burned due to the fires, nearly double the typical fire season in the state. Both Oregon and Washington state have seen entire towns destroyed by the fires, and Western Washington is preparing to deal with hazardous breathing conditions from all the smoke being produced. California is dealing with its own challenges; six of the twenty largest wildfires in California’s history have happened this year due to a combination of low rainfall and above average temperatures.
Low winds in California are expected to slow the spread of fire, but the still air produces its own problems. Slow moving air often leads to a buildup of air pollution closer to the surface, causing hazardous breathing conditions, especially for people with respiratory conditions. The CDC recommends evacuating areas with high smoke concentrations, and if unable to leave the area, to stay inside and limit strenuous activity outdoors. Multilayered masks, already in use due to the coronavirus pandemic, can also be used to filter ash and smoke when outside.