Air quality readings reached the Hazardous level from wildfire smoke in both Ashland and Medford on Wednesday evening. By Thursday morning, levels had dropped a bit, leaving both communities with air quality rated as Very Unhealthy.
The smoke made a bad day for atmospheric conditions that much worse. A heat advisory overlapped an air quality alert from the National Weather Service, which reported a daytime high of 98 degrees. That was actually slightly better than the forecast high, just over 100.
Forecasters point out that thicker smoke diffuses sunlight and keeps temperatures from hitting their likely maximums under clear skies. Better for the skin, worse for the lungs. Health officials advise staying indoors in rooms with filtered air when smoke is at its worst.
The smell of wood smoke filled the air Wednesday evening, and car headlights appeared yellow through the gloom. And the prospect for a change is limited; the heat advisory and air quality alert will continue through the day on Thursday.