Parts of Rogue Valley get brief reprieve from smoke

Medford took in the view of Roxy Ann Peak this morning as the sun rose behind it, a sight that's been enshrouded in thick smoke from nearby wildfires for several days.

A low pressure system caused a shift in wind direction overnight, redirecting the breezes northward and pushing a sizable amount of the grey clouds out of the Rogue Valley. But National Weather Service officials said for area residents not to get too excited just yet.

"More than likely it's probably going to be a temporary thing," said meteorologist Misty Duncan. "We're still going to have smoky conditions."

The smoke, drifting from nearby lightning-sparked wildfires in Josephine and Douglas counties that continue to burn and have torched nearly 40,000 acres, has had a severe impact on regional air quality because of the fine particles in the smoke. On Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality upgraded Medford's air quality to "hazardous," meaning the outside air is dangerous to all groups. It hovered in the "very unhealthy" category Thursday. Due to smoke's seeming retreat today, that status has upgraded to "moderate." (Clarification: This has been updated to reflect the most recent data.)

"It might be a pretty decent day in Medford," Duncan said.

Grants Pass is still in the red with an "unhealthy" reading, DEQ data shows.

More than 4,000 firefighters from across the region and U.S. continue to fight the fires this morning with help from the National Guard.

— Ryan Pfeil


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