Even as the first fall-like rainstorm swirled toward Oregon, one last day of choking smoke gripped western Oregon on Saturday, when the Willamette Valley had the dubious distinction of having the five most air-polluted readings in the nation. The Eugene-Springfield area was the fifth.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Air Now” website, at 5 p.m. Saturday, Eugene had an Air Quality Index reading of 158; Hillsboro was fourth with 161; Cave Junction third with 163; Roseburg had 171 and Portland was the worst, with 187.
All of those readings were in the “unhealthy” range for everyone, reflecting the density of small air particulates that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
However, signs that the worst fire season in recent memory was ending were evident Saturday.
The National Weather Service said a cool, wet storm headed toward the Pacific Northwest out of the Gulf of Alaska is expected to arrive Sunday afternoon, “and continue at times through much of the week. Snow levels will drop to (between) 5,000 to 6,000 feet by Monday and remain near that level through the remainder of the week,” according to the weather service office forecast in Portland.
The storm is expected to bring the first significant rain to Eugene since…