Smoke from a series of wild fires in southwest Oregon is passing over the Inland Northwest this morning, but so far the smoke has not become a threat to air quality.
Most of the smoke is suspended at higher elevations in the atmosphere and appeared after daybreak as darker-than-normal clouds, forecasters said.
“Anything this morning that looks like clouds is actually smoke,” said Colby Neuman of the National Weather Service in Spokane.
He said satellite images show that water clouds remained offshore this morning as a warm high pressure system hangs over the region for at least one more day.
A southerly flow along the western edge of the high has caused smoke to move from south to northeast over the past day or so. An increase in the sizes of the fires since Wednesday has added more smoke to the upper atmosphere.
A modest change in the weather later today will shift winds to coming from the west, sending the smoke away from the Inland Northwest.
Air quality in Spokane this morning was in the good range.
The lightning-caused Tumblebug Complex fire in old growth timber about 60 miles southeast of Eugene, Ore., had covered about 11 square miles as of this morning. On Wednesday, the fire burned erratically in difficult terrain, throwing burning debris up to a mile ahead of the main fire. As a result, it was only 5 percent contained this morning, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland.
Several other fires were also reported in the region.
On the weather front, highs today across the Inland Northwest this morning are expected to reach the middle and upper 80s with 87 in downtown Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and 86 in Spokane Valley and Post Falls.
Records could be set across the region. In Spokane, the record high for today is 87.
A cool Pacific front moving across the region later today should bring breezy conditions this evening, but few, if any, clouds. High pressure remains strong across the region through the weekend, but a changing weather pattern should take the highs from the lower 80s on Friday to the upper 70s on Saturday and lower 70s on Sunday. Sunny or mostly sunny weather is forecast through Monday. A chance of showers does not arrive until Tuesday.
Lows tonight should remain about 50 and then slowly drop from the upper 40s to lower 40s through the weekend.
At 7 a.m., temperatures were balmy for late September with 58 at Spokane International Airport and 54 at Coeur d’Alene. But calm conditions overnight allowed for radiation cooling in some locations. It was 45 at Sandpoint and 44 at Deer Park at daybreak.
Wednesday’s high at Spokane International Airport was 90 degrees, which was just one degree short of the record in 1905. The high was also 90 at Felts Field.
Omak at 90 on Wednesday beat out the old record of 89 for the day in 1939 and Pullman tied its daily record at 93.