23 August 2015

[pdx] Day of the Wildfire Smoke, Part 1

The numerous wildfires in the eastern 2/3rds of Oregon and Washington are usually things those of us in the Willamette Valley hear of on the news, complete with pictures and live remotes.

Usually. Because this year, since the fires are so numerous and all following the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Wildfires (Rules 1-6 read 'burn everything', and rule 7 is 'when in doubt, see rules 1-6), and since we are afflicted with yet another continental weather system providing us with abundant offshore flow (a Pacific Northwest weathercaster term meaning the winds all go to the Pacific), this hellish fire season, everyone west of the Cascades gets a taste of it, and those with respiratory issues are strongly advised to stay indoors.

The day, Saturday, August 22nd, dawned auspiciously. Red sky at morning, Oregonian take warning; the morning sun was shinin' like a red rubber ball.

The above was taken at about 0715, as I departed my work site. The morning was remarkably amber from then on; the quality of the light in the air was more appropriate to sunset than not long after sunrise. And, all that day, I found myself wondering how much worse it would get. It's a good thing I got pictures; I myself couldn't foresee how sepulchral it would eventually get.

From about noon through to about 6 PM I spent the day in the company of some of my chums from high-school, and a better gathering could not have been had by anyone. The location was in Tigard, which is as far as you can go in the SW direction and remain in the Portland urban agglomerative disk. The haze thickened over the day. By the time we left and worked our way back through Tigard, this is what SW Pacific Hwy near SW 72nd Avenue and the Fred Meyer store looked like:

… and this was SW Barbur Blvd in the vicinity of SW 30th Ave (which is the light in the middle distance):

Despite the lateness of my day, I thought a viewpoint was needed. Portland's SW Terwilliger Blvd is famous for places to park and take in the pulchritdinousness that is Portland's city landscape from a point with a view. But today, this is mostly what Portland looked like from Terwilliger:

My city was gone.

The Tilikum Crossing:

Bridge of the people; smoke from the distant wildfires. More like Twilight of the Gods around here.

And this, the Marquam Bridge:

Absolute visibility here is something less than 2 miles. Clear visibility? Much less than that.

This view point is good for framing downtown Portland with views of Mount Saint Helens. Today's shot makes us imagine downtown Portland if Loo-Wit has erupted the other direction.

Another angle on the Marquam Bridge. Those buildings are new hotels and condos in the Riverplace and South Waterfront districts.

Our adventure continued east into the Hawthorne district. About which, anon.

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