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Eugene inversion layer: Smog by another name

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Eugene and the Southern Willamette Valley are experiencing a low atmospheric pressure creating an inversion layer resulting in poor air quality. Where I grew up (Los Angeles,) this condition is referred to as smog. In Eugene it's referred to as " air stagnation."

The Monday morning weather report via the” Weather Chanel,” posted a severe weather alert. Looking out the window I scratched my head as to the reason behind the warning. After all, the morning temperature was rising and would reach 50 degrees by early afternoon. I knew it wasn’t going to snow, freeze or otherwise ruin a decent early winter day. However, the fog was thick and had a strange amber hue to it. I had a slight headache and my eye and nose was running. So much for getting back to nature...

Smog! Cell memory returned me to the beach days of my youth when early morning fog would combine with auto generated carbon monoxide and produce Smog, the curse of an otherwise beautiful Southern California.

While Eugene doesn't have the population base or the traffic snarl of a larger city, it does have several thousand wood burning fireplace and wood stoves. And, although Oregon’s Department of Environment Quality has placed restrictions on all uncertified wood stoves, the mandated removal of such stoves is not enforced until the home is sold. So far December 2013 has had more “air quality alerts” than any month in recent memory.

Unseasonably cold temperatures, low humidity and the burning of wood products create the condition. With the rains come a higher atmospheric pressure as well as a cleansing shower.

For those sensitive to smoke and other air born pollutants, I recommend staying in doors with the windows closed. Forget about outdoor burning. A few weeks ago I got caught with a late afternoon burn that continued into the still of the night. It smoked my house out for several days.

As to the Smog, expect some relief with Fridays predicted rain.

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