Energy & Environment

Portland, Seattle, LA among cities with world’s worst air quality as wildfires rage in Western states

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Three U.S. cities — Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Los Angeles — are currently among the top 10 worldwide with the worst air quality amid dozens of large-scale wildfires in the Western U.S., according to rankings compiled by air quality tracker IQAir.

Air quality issues extend beyond the cities and through most of their respective states, according to The Associated Press.

An Oregon air quality alert that was initially set to end Monday has been extended for another week, and Alaska Airlines has suspended flights to Portland and Spokane, Wash.

“I don’t think that we should be outside, but at the same time, we’ve been cooped up in the house already for months so it’s kind of hard to dictate what’s good and what’s bad. I mean, we shouldn’t be outside period,” Portland resident Issa Ubidia-Luckett told the AP.

In central California, meteorologist Dan Borsum said at a news briefing on Sunday that some areas will not be fully cleared of smoke until October. He said smoke was accumulating in California’s Central Valley, where air quality was already among the lowest in the state. 

“It’s going to take a substantially strong weather pattern to move all the smoke,” he said, according to the AP.

In Oregon, Portland National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Kranz said a strong inland wind off the ocean will be necessary to rid the state of smoke. Without a “perfect balance,” however, Kranz told the AP such a wind could exacerbate some of the fires.

“We need the winds to get the smoke out of here,” he said. “We just don’t want them to be too strong, because then they could fan those flames and all of a sudden those fires are spreading again.”

Wildfires have burned at least 2 million acres of land in California this year, surpassing the previous record of 1.96 million acres in 2018, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

Tags Air quality Los Angeles Portland Seattle wildfires

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