If you want to get away from the wildfire smoke over the next few days, you likely have quite the trek ahead of you.
The HRRR (high resolution rapid refresh) smoke model map, utilized by the National Weather Service, shows a massive wallop of smoke from numerous fires in Washington, Montana and Idaho — Canada, too — inbound to Oregon. That new dose of sooty haze is expected to loiter for at least a couple of days, with a chance of some clearing possible by late Wednesday, weather officials said.
“Into Wednesday, we should expect to see smoke over the entire region, even down to the coast,” said meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies.
A low pressure system is responsible, rotating and pulling smoke from the northeast into the area.
“This pattern we’re going to have for the next several days is just rotating smoke around,” Nelaimischkies said.
Southwest Oregon could see some relief by late Wednesday when winds shift to coming from the northwest and west. That could mean some additional smoke from the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires that continue to burn west of Grants Pass, but Nelaimischkies says “generally” the Rogue Valley has been spared from that smoke when wind flow is coming out of the northwest.
The HRRR-Smoke system “simulates the emissions and transport of smoke from wildfires” detected by a satellite. That system’s infrared radar images are used to compute the intensity of the flames and how much smoke they produce. It then projects where that smoke will travel, utilizing “high resolution wind modeling” to do so, Nelaimischkies said.
The system doesn’t take existing smoke into account and all data timestamps are in Greenwich Mean Time — seven hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time — but so far, the data simulations have proven to be “pretty successful” a National Weather Service Facebook post reads.
The map is available at https://hwp-viz.gsd.esrl.noaa.gov/smoke/index.html#.
While the smoke is not likely to be gone anytime soon, firefighters have made significant progress on fighting the major fires in the area, with containment on the Taylor Creek fire west of Grants Pass increasing from 61 to 79 percent Sunday and containment on the Klondike fire near Selma increasing from 15 to 28 percent. Containment on the Miles fire in Jackson County grew from 30 percent on Friday to 38 percent Monday morning.
The Taylor Creek fire has grown to 52,588 acres, but crews are mostly mopping up and securing existing fire lines. Bear Camp Road, which provides access between Galice and the lower Rogue River, has reopened after being closed for nearly three weeks due to the fire and the resulting falling trees, debris on the road and damage to the road. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Department announced the opening effective at 5 a.m. Sunday.
The 72,074-acre Klondike fire, which grew to within three miles of Selma and state Highway 199, is 28 percent contained.
The most active burning occurred overnight Sunday on the southeast corner of the Klondike fire. The fire filled in Hoover Gulch, about five miles west of Selma and was burning on Fiddler Mountain, about six miles northwest of Kerby, and in the burned area of the 2002 Biscuit Fire.
A release said firefighters were holding the fire north of Babyfoot Road, which is being used as a control line. The fire continued to spread south and southwest, away from the communities of Selma, Cave Junction and the Highway 199 corridor.
Fire managers were using back burns to steer the southeast corner of the fire into the burn scar of the 2017 Chetco Bar fire, which serves as a natural barrier because of the lower amount of available fuel.
Crews continue to make headway on these fires, burning northeast of Trail. The 9,841-acre Columbus fire is at 35 percent containment and the 33,204-acre Miles fire is 38 percent contained. Two other fires in the area, the Snow Shoe and Round Top fires, have been fully contained at 3,816 and 154 acres, respectively.
According to a release, minimal fire growth has allowed crews to shift to more active areas. The north end of the Miles fire and the south side of the Columbus fire are slowly growing toward each other through greener vegetation.
Firefighters were planning to continue mop up and patrol as needed along the southern half of the Miles fire and the northern edge of the Columbus fire, including removing hazardous tree snags along roads and where fire crews are working.
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