Portland Leads Cities With Worst Air Quality in the World Amid Wildfires

The air quality in Portland has plummeted as wildfire smoke has engulfed the skies above Oregon, Washington and much of the entire West Coast over the weekend.

Portland's air quality ranking continues to be by far the worst among major world cities as tens of thousands of acres remain ablaze in the region. Other cities in the area—including Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco—are also experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world, with yellowed skies and dense fog blocking out the sun for millions of residents.

Although the National Weather Service says mild temperatures and calm winds may help the massive firefighting effort, each city remains under Dense Fog and Dense Smoke advisories Sunday.

Satellite images show wildfire smoke has blanketed nearly the entire West Coast, stretching from Canada down to Southern California. The National Weather Service in Portland warned drivers Sunday that visibility is less than 50 feet throughout Oregon from smoke and fog. Motorists have been urged to use utmost caution and allow for sudden braking as improvements in visibility improve with the sun rise.

As of Sunday, Portland continues its third day with air quality in the "unhealthy-hazardous" range, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reported Sunday. Newsweek reached out to the agency for additional remarks Sunday afternoon.

Portland and the other Pacific Northwest cities join places like Delhi, India and Karachi, Pakistan on the list of places with the world's worst air quality and pollution indexes.

A Snapshot in Time
Below is an image of #airquality frm https://t.co/DZHlGVAD0t frm this morning. OR’s AQ sits entirely in the unhealthy-hazardous range.
Pls continue to monitor air in yr region & take precautions. Find resources for doing so in our pinned tweet. #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/UwHMlE0U2i

— OregonDEQ (@OregonDEQ) September 12, 2020

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA satellite data shows the wildfire smoke has been continually swirling in different directions throughout the Pacific Northwest since at least September 6. As of Friday, more than 800,000 acres had burned in Oregon, and over 3.2 million acres had burned across California.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-60s and low-70s Sunday in Portland, but weather service agencies caution that air quality is unlikely to improve until later this week. Much needed rain is expected on Tuesday, which the NWS says will assist in the massive firefighting effort across Oregon, Washington and California. Air tankers have dropped flame retardant on tens of thousands of acres of Oregon, particularly over the South Obenchain Fire burning north of Medford.

According to the Bureau of Land Management for Oregon and Washington, there are currently 27 large wildfires burning approximately 1.5 million acres across the two states Sunday.

The air quality has fallen in places as far as Southern California, as eerie orange and red skies have spread over much of the state in the past few days.

portland oregon air quality worst
The air quality in Portland has plummeted to among the worst in the world as wildfire smoke has engulfed the skies above Oregon, Washington and much of the entire West Coast over the weekend. NATHAN HOWARD / Stringer/Getty Images