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The view from a deck in Quincy looking toward Chandler Road this week. Quincy led the country in the worst quality for a time during at least four of the past seven days. Photo submitted

Air quality should improve Monday and Tuesday

This is what the view likes on a typical day. Photo submitted

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Quincy residents should prepare to suffer through one more day of extremely unhealthy, smoky air quality, and then Monday and Tuesday could bring some relief.

That’s according to Brett Lutz, a National Weather Service meteorologist, assigned to the North Complex of fires. Lutz has been in Quincy since Aug. 21 and said, “It’s definitely been on the high end of smokiness,” when asked how this period of air quality compares to other fires he has staffed. But he added that he has definitely seen it before.

Lutz explained that Quincy is in a bowl-shaped valley so whether the fire is upslope or downslope, smoke blows in and gathers with no means of escape. “It’s a worst case scenario,” he said. Lutz said it’s the same situation in the Rogue Valley where he resides. “Anytime there is a fire to the north or west it’s blocked by the Cascades and Siskiyous.”

Based on the forecast, Lutz predicts that today, Aug. 30, will be another bad air quality day, with a respite coming Monday and Tuesday. “It’s highly likely we will see improvement in the morning,” Lutz said during a Sunday morning interview. A shift in winds will cause smoke from the Bear Fire to blow down canyon.

But past Tuesday, the weather is supposed to become hotter and Lutz said that “depending on the state of the fires” he would expect the poor air quality to return.

Meteorologists assigned to a fire develop a forecast that is presented to incident command at 7 p.m. each evening, which can be then incorporated into the next morning’s 7 a.m. operations briefing. The forecast is extremely critical in planning the day’s activities for firefighters — not only to fight the blaze and protect structures, but for their safety as well.

The air quality in Quincy and the surrounding areas has ranged from unhealthy to hazardous during the past week. The best advice is to stay indoors, invest in an air purifier, wear a mask or, if all else fails, go somewhere else. But given that most of the state is suffering from some degree of unhealthy air quality and it is continually changing, it’s difficult to know where to go.

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